Supporting more than 18,000 residents throughout Northern Indiana, Kankakee Valley REMC is a not-for-profit cooperative providing member-consumers access to top-quality power sources. For some, this power comes from solar energy.
Darrell Marks, energy services specialist at Kankakee Valley REMC, supports solar energy efforts for customers and shares what he deems are the best steps to take to research and install solar energy on their property.
Electric utilities have different requirements for solar installation and the interconnection to the electric grid. For Kankakee Valley REMC, Marks encourages member-consumers of Kankakee Valley REMC to contact the co-op before completing the solar application required by the co-op. A quick call with the co-op will help the member-consumer fully understand the steps and requirements before signing on the dotted line for a new solar array.
Kankakee REMC provides this service free of charge for all its member-consumers.
“It is important to us that those individuals interested in alternative energy come to us (the Co-Op) before they sign any papers-before making any promises,” Marks said. "We’re unbiased. I want to give them the right answer, and I'm not trying to lead them down the road to financially benefit us or anybody else.”
This preliminary conversation can avoid misconceptions and issues down the road.
For example, contrary to common knowledge, solar energy does not always operate independently of traditional power sources.
“There's a certain point of connection that the solar companies or the customers have to make,” Marks said. “Solar units need power from the electric company in order to make the equipment work in most situations.”
Additionally, adding solar energy to your property does not lessen your total energy costs.
“The few cents, the few kilowatt hours, or cost savings customers might have [in their electric bill] will be offset by the large investment in their in their solar array,” Marks said. “If someone thinks they’re going to eliminate their electric bill–that’s rarely true.”
Researching alternative energy providers is one step that Marks always encourages customers to pursue.
Adhering to its mission, Kankakee REMC has developed seven steps for alternative energy that both educate and protect its member-consumers.
To ensure member-consumers are educated about their choices and understand the requirements, Kankakee Valley REMC asks them to first complete an Interconnection Application. This application requires information from the customer and the outside alternative energy provider to further protect customers and ensure high-quality equipment.
“We have that mindset,” Marks said. “One of our core values is looking out for our member-consumers.”
Once the application is provided and approved, member-consumers must provide proof of insurance on their solar unit. Then construction and connection of the unit can begin.
Within 20 days of completion, member-consumers should notify Kankakee REMC to have a Commissioning Test conducted. Shortly after, member-consumers should see changes on their Kankakee REMC bill.
Marks and Kankakee Valley REMC see the great potential of alternative and solar energy.
“Solar is a great technology,” Marks said. “Kankakee REMC has just under 100 alternative energy member-consumers that are connected with us today.”
Any interested KVREMC member-consumers should reach out to email@example.com.