We take a balanced approach to renewable energy and are committed to providing members with the best information on the subject
Considering installing solar?
If you’d like to install a solar generation system on your property, our team will walk you through the process. We do not sell renewable systems, but we can point you in the correct direction.
It's important to note that renewable systems involve a significant initial investment and vary greatly depending on the system you choose and your home's setup. The first step is always to conduct an energy audit to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. You want to reduce your usage first to make sure you can install the smallest system possible to meet your generation needs, without oversizing and overpaying. This will reduce the size requirements of the solar equipment.
Energy efficiency upgrades, such as adding insulation or changing out lightbulbs to LEDs, often have a much faster payback than installing solar equipment. Learn more about energy audits here and schedule an appointment.
*Visit our special solar 101 website here for video resources to help you if you're considering solar.
How it Works
Your equipment must be supplied under an equipment purchase or lease agreement (not an agreement to purchase electricity from the solar vendor). It's essential to contact us early and review the cooperative's distribution generation policies prior to starting any solar installation to avoid costly mistakes.
*Please review our policies and attached paperwork at the bottom of this page under "Connecting Your Renewable Energy to Our Electric System."
How You’re Billed
Most members with solar or wind systems still purchase energy from us each month. But if you generate more electricity than you consume, you can sell it to us at retail prices. This is done by installing a meter that records how much energy you generate onto the grid.
Please note: Our Net Metering rate is being eliminated and will be replaced with a fair Net Billing rate in spring 2021. See "Net Billing" section below for more information.
While installation can be expensive, tax credits can help you reduce the cost of your wind or solar system. Learn more from energy.gov
The purchase of a small solar energy system is eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit through 2019. The tax credit decreases to 26 percent in 2020, then to 22 percent in 2021, and expires on Dec. 31, 2021. If you opt for a solar equipment lease, consider that you will not be eligible for this tax benefit, since you will not own the solar energy system. However, you will want to explore whether you get all or part of this tax benefit applied to your base rate. You can search for additional state, local, or utility incentives on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).
Thank you for your interest in our renewable energy program. For more information or to get started, please call 1-800-962-3830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OurSolar Community Array
Midwest Electric has a 50kW solar array next to our Amanda substation, at Fort Amanda and Bowsher roads west of Lima. It’s part of the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives' OurSolar program, which features 2.1 mW of solar arrays throughout Ohio.
We know members wanted solar, but didn't necessary want the high costs and heavy maintenance associated with owning their own arrays. The answer? OurSolar - the best of both worlds.
Click here for more information on OurSolar and to view live production data.
Did you know a part of your power is generated from anaerobic digesters at livestock farms, gas generation from landfills, solar arrays, and hydro and wind power? We are committed to safe, reliable, affordable, and economically sustainable power production that is also environmentally responsible.
Ohio’s co-ops take a balanced approach to renewable energy. While we continue to support and utilize affordable coal-fired generation for the bulk of our power, Buckeye Power and its member cooperatives have made significant investments in renewable energy on behalf of Ohio co-op families.
EnviroWatts is a renewable energy program that gives Midwest Electric members the opportunity to support renewable energy for as little as $1 a month. EnviroWatts is sold in 100-kilowatt hour blocks, and is available to both residential and business members of the cooperative. Buying just one block of EnviroWatts each month for a year has the environmental impact of not driving your car for three months or not using 2½ barrels of oil.
EnviroWatts is optional. Pricing for EnviroWatts is as follows:
- 1 to 25 blocks: $2 per block per month
- 26 to 250 blocks: $1.50 per block per month
- 251 blocks or more: $1 per block per month
Each block represents 100 kilowatt hours (kWh). This program works regardless of how many kWh you actually use each month. For example, you could buy just one block even if you use, for example, 800 kWh each month. You’ll pay your normal costs for electricity, plus $2.
The renewable energy for the EnviroWatts program comes from electricity produced by wind and solar energy, as well as methane gas from landfills, poultry operations and dairy farms. To sign up, call us at 1-800-962-3830. Or e-mail email@example.com.
To run calculations to get a rough estimate of the amount of electricity you could produce with solar or wind at your location, try these websites:
- www.solarestimate.org (provides both solar and wind)
Want to know whether a wind turbine might be right for you? Check out our Small Wind Guide for helpful information.
Here are two other helpful wind energy documents:
For information on residential solar power, check this out:
For information on solar power for your business, read here:
- A Rational Look at Renewable Energy: The Implications of Intermittent Power
- Germans debate cost of going green (May 2011 Financial Times newspaper)
Midwest Electric members or others who desire to have a windmill, solar panel, or other type of power generator that is connected to our electric system should first read and complete these three documents. Please note that our distributed generation rate is subject to change at any time.
- Distributed Generation Application for Interconnection
- Distributed Generation Policies
- Distributed Generation Technical Guidelines
Please note: Our Net Metering rate is being eliminated and will be replaced with a fair Net Billing rate in spring 2021. Please see the below section called "Net Billing" to learn more.
Co-op Member-Generated Power
As member-owned distributed generation has evolved, so has your electric cooperative’s incorporation of member-produced energy incentives to your monthly rates.
Net metering—the procedure that allows co-op consumer-members to “bank” surplus member-generated energy in the electric grid for future use (credit) at its retail cost—has given way to net billing.
Net billing—in which member-generated power injected to the electric grid is priced at the wholesale value of the energy received from the member—has become the accepted practice among member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.
Net Metering vs. Net Billing
The topic of net metering versus net billing centers on the appropriate value for excess energy that’s sent to the cooperative when member generation produces more power than can be used at your home or business at the time of generation. Because our cooperative’s retail energy rate includes the costs of maintaining our poles and wires, as well as staffing costs, our retail energy rate is much greater than the value we receive from excess generation; in other words, our fixed costs, which aren’t reduced by excess generation. Net billing allows co-ops a more equitable balance of power generation cost and electric distribution expense.
Under net metering, your co-op pays more for distributed generation that its actual worth to the cooperative. Because co-ops are member owned, the net metering model means that those surplus costs are passed along to the rest of the membership. With net billing, the co-op pays the same amount for distributed generation as it pays for electricity generated by other sources—a fair price for all members.
Why the Change to Net Billing?
Electric cooperatives are member-owned and governed, not-for-profit organizations, based on guiding principles:
- Open and voluntary membership
- Democratic member control
- Members’ economic participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative; setting up reserves; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
- Autonomy and independence
- Educations, training, and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
In deference to Principle 3, electric cooperatives are obligated to operate evenly and proportionately to benefit its members fairly. While policies vary per co-op, the decision to convert to net billing is in accordance with cooperative principles.
If you are interested in installing a renewable or solar system at your location, please contact us first to review restrictions and ensure your energy use is already as efficient as possible to avoid having to pay more for an oversized system.
Have questions? Give us a call at 1-800-962-3830.
*Click here to see this information as a PDF, which appeared in Midwest's February 2021 member magazine, Ohio Cooperative Living.