Conservation Corner – June 2022

Before you get any bright ideas, please read

We can help you achieve your solar power goals. Columbia REA follows the Washington state solar regulations for utilities and can help you get the credit you deserve for the energy you create.

Most of your neighbors who install solar systems choose PV, short for Photovoltaic. This is the technology that absorbs the solar energy and converts it to electricity, sending it to your appliances or to us, through a special “net-meter” that measures the power your system generates and/or uses against the electricity you use from Columbia REA, and determines the proper billing credit.

Under net-metering and solar PV, the system owner (you) receives retail credit for all or some of the electricity you generate in a year. This involves banking or carrying over credits from April through March (your banked credits will reset to zero on April 1 each year.)

The part of your bill that can be credited is called the “usage” or what we call “kWh Charge” on your monthly bill. Monthly facilities and demand charges are still due each month, and cannot be reduced by solar credits. A monthly payment for usage would still be due if the solar credits or available “banked” credits are less than the total amount used.

We have some great information on our website on our Renewable Energy page and in your SmartHub app if you want to learn more about solar power and net-metering. Also, if you are shopping around for solar equipment, please call us so we can answer any questions. We can also provide the credit amount that you could expect to get for the year, based on your last year’s history. This can be very helpful to know what your solar system equipment payments might be compared to how much credit or savings you can receive from Columbia REA.

Lastly, there are some things you should know if you plan to produce your own electricity:

  • You must apply with Columbia REA and your solar generation site must be approved by us before you can proceed.
  • The Washington state program has some potential changes in the future. Regardless of what a contractor may tell you, please talk with us to discuss what it takes to get approved, and so you know what your approximate credit amounts would be.
  • We don’t accept applications from most contractors directly but will work with them if you ask us to, after you apply.

So if your dream is to be self-sustaining, or to lower your bill, or both, rest assured that we are interested in helping you connect to our system with your solar project.

Charlie DeSalvo, Energy Efficiency Specialist

If you have any questions about energy efficiency, email Charlie DeSalvo or call (509) 526-4041.