What Texas homeowners can expect when going solar with CoServ
Individual panel prices
Prices of DIY kits
Installed system prices
If you’re a CoServ customer, you already know it works a little bit differently than a traditional utility.
CoServ is an electric cooperative, or “electric co-op”, which means the customers are technically the company owners. From electing board officials to getting paid when the company profits, CoServ co-op customers have a lot more control over their electricity than many other Americans.
But, even so, being beholden to the utility, even if you do own it, still means you’re bogged down by high electricity bills. Texans living in CoServ’s service area can really take their electricity into their own hands by going solar. It saves money, decreases dependence on the utility, and is better for the planet!
However, while going solar with CoServ right now has many advantages, there are a few concerns that could make switching to solar with this particular co-op a bit of a risk.
CoServ’s service territory spans across Denton, Collin, Cooke, Grayson, Tarrant, and Wise counties in North Texas.
Unlike most areas of Texas, CoServ has a regulated service territory, so CoServ’s customers cannot choose what company they purchase their electricity from. Instead, they have to use one of CoServ’s rate options.
Homeowners who install solar panels on their roof can participate in CoServ’s net metering program. When you go solar, CoServ will replace your electric meter so it can measure two things:
Your electric bill will be dependent on the net difference between how much electricity you took from the grid versus how much electricity your solar panels produced.
If, over the course of the billing period, you took more energy from CoServ than your solar panels produced, you would be billed for the net kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used from the grid. For example, if your home used 500 kWh of electricity but your solar panels only produced 450 kWh, you would be billed for 50 kWh of electricity you used from CoServ.
In some cases, your solar panels might produce more electricity than your home uses. If that does happen, there would be no kilowatt-hours of electricity for CoServ to bill you for. If your home used 500 kWh but your solar panels produced 600 kWh, your electricity usage would be fully covered, and those 100 kWh would be sent to CoServ.
Again, CoServ does not credit homeowners for excess energy sent to the grid that exceeds the home’s usage, which means in that example above, those 100 excess kilowatt hours would be sent to the grid, and you would not get credit for it. CoServ gets that electricity for free.
Beware - your net metering service might be changing! Most utilities have a grandfathering clause that allows solar homeowners to continue to receive the same net metering service even if the utility implements new program rules. CoServ doesn’t offer this protection to its customers, making going solar extremely risky, as there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive the savings you initially thought you would. This can be detrimental to a homeowner’s investment!
There is no special rate tariff that you have to use with net metering; you can continue your service with CoServ’s Standard Residential Rate. The electric rate will vary, depending on the time of year and how much electricity you use:
The power your solar panels generate will be valued at the full-retail rate of electricity. Any solar power produced that exceeds your electric usage will not be credited on your current or future electric bills.
While net metering can technically offset all of your electricity costs, you will still get an electricity bill from CoServ every month that will be at least $20.
That’s right - no matter how much solar electricity the panels on your roof produce, you have to pay $20. The minimum bill amount is made up of two separate charges: a $10 customer charge and a $10 distributed generation charge.
So, if your electric bill was $140, $20 of which being the minimum bill charges, your solar panels could eliminate $120. Even though it’s not technically your entire electric bill, that’s still a substantial amount of savings.
Tip! System size matters: When designing your solar system, you’ll want to base its size off the amount of energy you use in the spring or fall, not the summer. Why? Well, CoServ does not compensate you for the solar electricity you produce that is above your home’s energy consumption. Though this may mean you won’t eliminate your entire bill in the hottest months of the year, it will prevent you from spending more money on a larger system and sending a ton of excess energy to CoServ for free for the rest of the year.
No, CoServ does not offer any solar rebates or incentives. The company did in the past, and a lot of websites claim it is still available. However, it’s made clear on CoServ’s website that solar rebates are no longer offered.
With that said, CoServ customers can take advantage of the federal solar tax credit, which can greatly reduce how much a solar system costs. How much can the tax credit save you?
Well, to offset a monthly CoServ electric bill of $140, you would need to install a solar system that costs about $28,000. After the 30% federal tax credit, that price would fall to $19,600.
If you’ve been looking through CoServ’s website, you’ve probably come across the Solar Savings Rate. Although the name makes it seem like it’s for homeowners who install solar panels, it’s not.
The Solar Savings Rate is available to CoServ’s eco-conscious customers who do not have the ability to put solar on their roof. So if your roof is too small, you rent an apartment, or you can’t get financing for an installation, you still have the ability to purchase clean solar energy through CoServ.
Here’s how it works: CoServ has its own solar farm out near Krugerville, and it also purchases 52 megawatts of power from the Lapetus Solar Energy Project in Andrews County. When you sign up for the Solar Savings Rate, you will purchase 100% clean energy from these solar farms.
You’ll pay roughly $0.13 per kWh of electricity your home uses under the Solar Savings plan, which is slightly more expensive than the rates offered in the Standard Residential plan. But if supporting clean energy is important to you, the extra two cents per kWh could be worth it.
We wish that going solar was as simple as finding an installer and having the panels magically installed on your roof. Unfortunately, there is a bit of paperwork and permitting you need to get through before your panels start cutting down your electric bill.
The good news is that most of this is taken care of by your installer, so most of the headache falls on them. Here’s what you can expect during the interconnection process when you install solar as a CoServ customer:
Choosing the right solar company for your unique needs is integral to making your installation process as smooth as possible. You want to choose a solar installer with favorable customer reviews that has been in business for at least five years.
Don’t just go with the first installer you talk to, get quotes from multiple solar companies, and compare the quotes to what you see on our solar calculator to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
Before your solar system can be connected to the grid, it needs to be approved by CoServ. Your installer will help you fill out the application, which will outline the size, location, and electrical design of the system.
Along with the application, you must pay a $25 application fee. The fee will be higher if you have a large system over 20 kilowatts (kW) in size, but most residential solar systems are well below 20 kW. It will take up to 15 business days for CoServ to approve the application.
When the application is approved, the solar system can be installed. Installation, believe it or not, will probably be the quickest part of the entire process! Depending on the size and the complexity of the system, the installation can take anywhere from as little as five hours to two days.
The solar installer will notify CoServ once the installation is complete. Within 10 days of being notified of completion, CoServ will install metering equipment to measure both energy consumption and solar energy production.
There are two meter setups CoServ may choose to install:
CoServ will complete an inspection of the solar system to ensure that it is able to safely connect to the grid. Once the inspection is passed, the system will be given permission to operate and you’ll start generating solar energy!
Going solar with CoServ is a pretty good investment right at this moment, but there are some things to consider before you decide for sure.
Our biggest concern is the lack of a grandfathering clause in their net metering program. CoServ could decide to drastically change, or completely end, their net metering program and your solar panels would no longer be saving you as much money as you thought they would.
CoServ says that it doesn’t plan on making any drastic changes to the net metering program any time soon, but utilities all over the country are making moves to end net metering, so it’s hard to trust CoServ on this one.
If you are dead-set on getting solar, you could always pair the system with a solar battery. This will increase your upfront investment, probably by about $10,000, and won’t save you a ton of extra money, but it would protect you in case CoServ changes its net metering policies. Plus, a battery will provide you with backup power in the event of a grid power outage.
Check out our guide to the best solar batteries in 2022 here. You can also use our solar calculator to get an idea of how many solar batteries you would need, and just how much it would impact your investment, so you can decide if going solar is right for you.