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Big Country EC News

Solar Power Alert

Up-front research pays off when considering a system

Big Country Electric Cooperative frequently receives calls from members who have been approached by residential solar power salespeople urging them to install solar photovoltaic systems at their home. They may offer attractive incentives and speak of lucrative tax credits, but keep in mind that these are sales tactics, not expert legal or tax advice.

If you’re considering a residential solar power installation or just have questions about it, please contact us. We also recommend contacting an attorney and tax professional to evaluate any residential solar agreement before you sign on the dotted line. Many members have signed contracts to install solar panel arrays without seeking expert guidance, only to discover too late that they struck a costly deal that didn’t benefit them.

Many people are misled by salespeople to believe that residential solar generation is a good source of backup power during an outage, when that isn’t necessarily the case.

  • As a safety precaution, when there is a power outage, solar power generation is automatically disabled to prevent a potentially fatal damaging backflow of power to lines that crews may be working on.
  • A battery system tied to a solar installation could provide some backup power, but these are incredibly expensive to install and limited in how much energy they can store. If the sun isn’t shining, solar panels won’t generate power, which means batteries have no power to store—leaving you in the dark.
  • If backup power is your primary concern, consider a home standby generator installed by a licensed electrician. Keep in mind that there are safety concerns for the installation and operation of generators. In addition, the cost and financing of these systems might not be in the best financial interests of many consumers. They may sound attractive but aren’t always a prudent investment if you’re looking to save or make money.
  • Homeowners seeking to save money on their electric bills are advised to investigate their energy usage and consider potential efficiency fixes and upgrades such as adding insulation, sealing doors and windows, and updating appliances and lighting.

On top of the upfront costs and considerations of installing a solar power system, there are long-term operating and maintenance factors to consider and requirements that must be met to interconnect with our electric grid, which solar contractors may not know or share with you.

While Big Country EC supports renewables in our area, it is our duty to look out for the best interests of our members. The recent proliferation of pop-up companies in the market to make a quick buck is concerning because their sales representatives are likely just that—representatives who have sales experience instead of energy industry knowledge. Their primary goal could be a quick sale before moving on to the next prospect.

For all of these reasons, we ask that you contact us first before signing a contract to install a system to generate solar power at your home. Our website features a solar calculator that can be very helpful in your planning. To access this calculator and a wealth of solar-related information, visit and click Solar.