As with any big purchase in life, there is bound to be a few papers to sign. Solar projects are no exception. While this is not a fun part of the process, it is important. A good solar contractor like SunBug Solar, who we used, will make this process easy and do most of the paperwork for you.
Some of the documents you will probably have to fill out and sign are:
- Contract with the Installer (and a big check)
- Rebate Application(s)
- Utility Interconnect Application
- Building Permit Applications (hopefully your contractor takes care of these for you)
Be sure you read the details carefully before signing any documents. Read on for more details of each piece of the paperwork puzzle.
Some contractors may sell the fact that they have a very simple contract. Be wary of this! The contract is there to protect you as well as the contractor. If you do not understand the contract you should speak to a third party who can help you understand it. There are several things that should be specified in a contract for a residential solar system. These items include, but are not limited to:
- The payment schedule
- Contractor license and insurance information
- A timetable for installation and project completion
- Removal of waste and debris as well as site cleanliness
- Clear specification of system design and size
Rebates vary from state to state. In Massachusetts we are getting a rebate from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. This program required an advance application which the installer helped us fill out. Because this is a significant rebate and it was not guaranteed that we would get it our contract stipulated that we would only pay a small down payment before we were approved and that we could choose to not go forward with the project if we did not receive this rebate.
A good contractor should be able to provide you with information about rebates available in your area. The definitive resource for rebate programs in other states is DSIRE.
Utility Interconnect Application
Today, most new installations to generate electricity are connected to the power grid or “gird tied”. This means that in addition to using the energy directly, if you produce more than you can use at any given time, the surplus electricity is “put back on the grid,” effectively providing power to the buildings around you. However, these other buildings pay the local utility for the power, not you. In states with favorable “net metering” laws, you are paid for this electricity that you generate by the utility. In order to be allowed to connect our system to the grid, a “utility interconnect application” had to be submitted. This both alerted our utility to the fact that we were adding a generation source and made sure that what we were doing was safe and legal.
Building Permit Applications
Building permits requirements vary by location and hopefully, your contractor will both know what you need and obtain them for you. Our contractor got a building permit from our city for both the electrical work and the building of the structure. As the homeowners we had to sign allowing the contractor to pull the permits on our behalf. So far we have had a building inspector come by and we expect that an electrical inspector will be by once the work is complete.
For someone who hasn’t done a large project like this before, at first glance the paperwork may seem daunting, however, a good contractor should be able to help you with all of it.
Jon & Alicia
|Going for Solar Series|
To learn more about residential solar installations, check out our series Going for Solar, which details every step from dreaming about installing solar, through picking a contractor and the steps in construction. We provide information and advice for every step of the way, as well as different approaches such as paying for it yourself versus leasing a system. Don’t miss the steps on how much money we saved during our first year of usage!