It's no secret — there are many benefits to installing solar panels on your home. For example, solar installation can increase your home's resale value, reduce your carbon footprint, and provide big tax savings through the end of 2019 through the solar tax credit. But one of the first things our customers ask us here at SOLENERGY is "will I still have an electric bill after solar panels have been installed on my home?"
As a homeowner here in Lakeland and Polk County looking into installing solar panels for your home, there is a good chance you have heard the rumblings around the current Lakeland Electric solar policies. The truth is, the Lakeland Electric "Solar Price Plan" works differently than any other electricity utility company in the state, and most of the country.
Lakeland Electric's Price Plans
One battle electric utility companies across the country have had to fight in recent decades is the increase in "peak demand times". There are certain hours within each day where many of Lakeland Electric's customers are using lots of electricity at one time — like in the mornings when the hot water heater, oven range, the dishwasher, and the iron are all operating at full force. Or, in the evening when the oven range is on again for dinner, the dryer is running, the television and sound system are both on while you have all of your devices plugged in and charging.
These peak demand times put a large strain on the grid, and require the electric utilities to make frequent upgrades to their infrastructure. In order to offset the cost of these upgrades, Lakeland Electric implemented a pricing plan for residential and commercial customers that charges a "demand charge" for electricity used during these peak hours. According to Lakeland Electric's official website, this demand pricing "encourages customers to shift their energy usage away from peak times".
These peak hours change from season to season, and are currently defined as:
Winter (Nov 1 – March 31)
Monday – Friday 6:01 am – 10:00 am
Exceptions for holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day
Summer (Apr 1 – Oct 31)
Monday – Friday 1:01 pm – 8:00 pm
Exceptions for holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day
What Does This Mean For Lakeland Electric’s Solar Customers?
Lakeland Electric participates in solar net metering — the process of providing a “one for one” credit to solar customers for excess solar energy that goes unused, and is sent back to the electricity grid for use in other homes. But the Solar Price Plan is where Lakeland Electric diverges from every other utility company in the State of Florida: Lakeland Electric’s Solar Price Plan still applies a demand charge to solar customers for using any grid supplied electricity during peak hours, while charging a lower electricity rate.
What this means for solar customers is that even with solar panels installed on your home, you may still have an energy bill depending on when you use your solar energy. Your demand charge will be determined by the highest day of electricity use during peak time for that month, at a rate of $5.27 per kilowatt. If you required 6 kilowatts on one particularly hot evening in July, the demand charge line item you would see on your bill that month would be $31.62, regardless of how much solar electricity your new solar panels converted from the sun’s rays. This is on top of any electricity usage not offset by net metering!
Is Solar Still Worth it? YES!
The Solar Price Plan from Lakeland Electric has been viewed by many as a disincentive to installing solar, by making solar installation less financially viable. But with a solar electric system carefully designed to take advantage of the Florida climate, you can still add monthly energy bill savings to the long list of solar benefits. And when you combine your solar panel installation with other solar energy savings measures like solar hot water heating, and solar pool heating, you can further reduce your electricity costs in addition to any electric or natural gas or propane costs associated with your home’s hot water needs.
This is where SOLENERGY comes in — we understand that the climate here in Lakeland and Polk County provides its own challenges when it comes to keeping the lights on and your family comfortable. But if you are looking to reduce your environmental impact, increase the value of your home, and reduce your energy bills without sacrificing your family’s way of life, get in touch with SOLENERGY. We can pair you with the perfect solar solution, and help you to decode the Lakeland Electric Solar Price Plan!