Rancho Cordova - Santa Rosa

Solar Installation Process

Solar Installer on Roof It is important for a customer to understand the Solar Installation Process.

  • Customer Inquiry – The process starts when you contact us and ask how we can help you meet your energy needs.

  • Determine Energy consumption and Solar Energy Needs – To accurately assess what size system you may need, we need to know how much power you are currently using, how much power you may use in the future, and what your goals for the system are. Typically, this is acomplished by analyzing your past energy bills, and looking at your current rate structure.

  • Determine Solar Availability for the site – We next need to determine how much roof or ground space is available for a solar installation. Many people have high electric bills and want to go solar, but do not have the roof space. Others may have a good south facing roof, but have shading issues. These factors limit the amount of ‘good’ solar that can be placed at any one location. While some of this can estimated using Google Earth and other remote applications, a visit from one of our sales staff is ultimately required to accurately assess a location for Solar.

  • Proposal – A Northwest Sales Representative will then generate a proposal based on the information provided to meet your specific needs and goals. If requested, multiple systems can be proposed showing different levels of solar and the net effect on your electric bills and usage on a yearly basis. We typically project out our proposals for 20-30 years, and will show you your rate of return on this investment in your future.

  • Solar Site Assessment – Once a contract has been signed, our design engineer will schedule another site visit to assess your roof and electrical system. Using this information, we can generate the necessary drawings to get a building permit for your residence to install your solar electric system. In addition, the design engineer may need to complete additional paperwork required by your local building department or by your electrical utility. This may include rebate requests, net metering agreements, energy use surveys, and other forms specific to your solar electric project

  • Building Permit – Northwest will apply for and receive all permits required for your solar project. We will interact on your behalf with all jurisdictions having authority over the project including the building department, fire department, your local utility, and any other government or private entity. All fees for these services is included in the quoted system price. Please be aware that some building permits may require a review process, while others are reviewed and issued on the day they are submitted. We strive to move your project along in as quick a manner as possible so that you can start generating your own power and saving on your monthly electric bills.

  • Installation of the Solar Electric System – While the permits are being approved, Northwest will be sourcing the components required for your solar installation. Our expert team of installers are prepared to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Many times, our team can install an average roof mounted system in as little as two working days. Some more complicated projects and ground mounts may require additional time on site. Once the system is completed, we will schedule inspections from the various building and utility departments that have authority over your project.

  • Utility Interconnection – Once the system is installed and inspected, your electric utilities will need to come out and install a new electric meter to accurately measure the electricity produced by your solar array and used by your home. These meters currently are NOT the ‘Smart Meters’ that you may have read about in the news that have caused problems and have been questioned as to their reliability and accuracy. These instead are ‘Bi-Directional Meters’ that really do ‘Spin Backwards’ during the day when producing power. They allow you to send excess power back to the utility, and offset high day usage or at power needed at night when the sun is not shining on the panels. Some utilities will send a meter crew out to a location within the week, while some of the larger utilities may take as long as 4-6 weeks to complete an interconnection. The important thing to remember is that your solar system will be a functioning part of your home for the next 20-30 years, providing you with low cost, green solar energy. We will do everything in our power to push for a speedy interconnection with your utility.

  • Rebates Issued by Utility – After the system is installed and commissioned, we will submit the required paperwork and test results to your utility to secure your solar utility rebate. The amount of time it takes to secure the rebate varies by utility. In most cases, the rebate amount is already deducted from the contract system cost, so Northwest will wait for the rebate check instead of you. The 30% Solar Federal Tax Credit is claimed at the end of the year when you file your Income Tax Statement, and can be claimed on the balance of the system after local rebates and incentives. Please check with your tax adviser as to your specific tax situation, and if you need advice on how to file your tax return and Solar Federal Tax Credit.