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Why Do Solar Companies Ask to See Your Utility Bills?

Publish Date: January 3rd, 2024

Once you’re ready to get a quote for home solar, one of the first things we’ll ask for will be your past utility bills. We want to see at least four months, but it’s best if you can provide us with 12 months of utility bill history for your home. Do we really need this info to get you a quote? Yes! Your utility bills help us accurately model the most efficient solar system for your home based on the amount of electricity you typically consume.

Why Do We Need Utility Bills to Model Your Solar System?

One of the biggest reasons why we need your utility bills is because utilities can limit the size of the system that is put on your roof based on your usage. It’s important for us to know how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you’ve consumed over the last 12 months, and we use that to conform to the utility’s rules for sizing. Since 70% of our customers are in Xcel Energy territory, it’s important to note that they allow us to size up to 200% of the last 12 months of kWh usage.

“It’s important to us to get the whole picture but also to install a system that is within the utility’s boundaries,” says Matt Johnson, Director of Residential Sales, “we wouldn’t want to do anything that would delay your project or cause it to get rejected by the utility. We want to set our customers up for long-term success.”

By giving us all the information we need up front, we can get our customers the most accurate pricing and design at the beginning, so there are no surprises or change orders throughout the process. We use the information from your utility bills plus any details you share with us about your energy goals to estimate what size system will be best for your home.

But Other Companies Haven’t Asked Me for That Much Utility Bill History…

The thing is, most reputable companies will ask for at least four months of utility bill history. We don’t just want to see your highest bill or an average. We want to see how your electricity usage changes over the year so we can best model how solar will affect your energy bill over time. We do our due diligence up front, so you have the best system design and the best financial modeling to make decisions from the beginning.

What If I Have a New House or I Haven’t Lived in My Home for 12 Months Yet?

Maybe you just moved into your home and don’t have 12 months of usage to provide. If that’s the case, no worries! We are able to look at the square footage of the home and use the calculator provided by the utility in order to size your system. If you know you are a high energy user or a lower energy user, we can design the system to the higher or lower end of the average ranges provided in the calculator.

Why Can’t You Install a Bigger System Just in Case?

Bigger isn’t always better, and that’s the case when it comes to a home solar array. We want to right-size your system, not have you paying more for a larger system you don’t need.

Not only that, but there is also a utility interconnection agreement that the homeowner signs, which says that since they are interconnecting with the grid, they have to conform to the utility's rules. The intention behind the rules is so that individual homeowners aren’t drastically overproducing power to sell at retail to the utility. The design of net metering is to allow for the homeowner to install a system based on their personal consumption, with some room for growth, and not to become an energy provider to the utility.

Depending on the utility, if you overproduce kilowatt hours on a yearly basis, you can choose to rollover those excess kilowatt hours to the next year or be paid out for the excess by the utility. If you choose to be paid out at the end of the year, then the utility will only pay you a wholesale rate, whereas if you do continuous rollover, you can get the retail value out of your excess by increasing your consumption in the future and pulling from your bank of kilowatt hours. So, there is no reason to oversize your system unless you know you are going to increase your consumption over the next few years. This is part of the consultative process we go through when designing your system.

Ok, I Get It. You Need a Lot of Information

We do require quite a bit of information and in-depth conversations with our customers up front, but for the investment you are making in your future (and your wallet’s future), we think it’s worth it to put in a little extra effort up front. And you want to make sure you’re working with a solar partner that is going to produce a great final product that will meet your needs.

We want to set realistic expectations around pricing, design, and energy goals for our customers so that the process of going solar is as smooth as possible and you are gaining as much benefit from the sun as you can. As always, if you have any questions about why we ask for certain information, our non-commissioned solar advisors are happy to chat with you!