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Solar Electric
Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

Solar panel installation on your home.

Solar photovoltaic panels convert energy from the sun into electricity. Arizona is an idea location to install solar systems since we receive a relatively high amount of annual sunshine.

2014 Net metering Disclaimer Notification

TEP Attachment A & B

Solar-powered electric systems

Solar systems are best suited in areas that receive a relatively high amount of annual sunshine like Arizona. The productivity of photovoltaic systems is sensitive to the specifics of the installation method and location. In particular, these systems are impacted by shading, photovoltaic panel horizontal tilt angle and azimuth.

Is solar generation right for me?

The decision to install a photovoltaic system on your property should be made after you consider a variety of factors. Local building codes, availability of sunlight, maintenance requirements and the cost of other alternative energy options such as wind, should all enter into your decision to install solar generation. In most populated areas of Arizona a solar generator is more cost effective than other forms of renewable generation, such as wind. This is especially true if your house has a south facing roof slope that is free of shade for the majority of the day.

What are the benefits of solar power?

  • Produces no emissions and is replenished naturally
  • Reduces greenhouse gases
  • Saves the release of 2 lbs. of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) for each kilowatt hour (kWh) produced
  • Saves the use of one-half gallon of water for each kWh of solar energy produced
  • Saves the release of other emissions that result from the burning of fossil fuels such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide or mercury
  • Makes use of one of Arizona’s greatest natural resources – sunshine
  • Provides customers with options to reduce their electric bills

What incentive payments are available to TEP customers?

Customers may qualify for federal and state tax credits to further reduce the cost of the system. Talk with a tax professional about current tax credits available to you for a renewable energy system. You can also view federal and state tax credits at dsireusa.org.

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What size system will I need?

A typical Tucson household uses about 11,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. One kilowatt of solar power will produce approximately 1,700 kWh per year. Your system size will depend on how much of your power you would like to generate with solar and on the availability of unshaded space on your rooftop. A field visit with a qualified installer will help determine an appropriate system size.

To request an electricity consumption report specific to your house contact us. These reports cost $8.00. TEP does not recommend a solar electric system that exceeds annual power usage.

How do I find a contractor/installer and what qualifications do they need?

The contractor installing your system must have a license from the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (AZROC) that authorizes them to install the kind of system that you purchase. TEP does not endorse any contractor/installer. A customer may hire any qualified, licensed contractor of their choice. TEP does require the installer to also possess an Arizona business license that is active and in good standing.

Contractors are required to pass a solar trade exam with the AZROC in order to obtain the proper license classification. Some license classifications can be confusing and a contractor's license status may change at any given time. Please refer to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors website for the most up to date information and for appropriate licensing guidelines at AZROC.

TEP recommends that customers meet with at least three licensed solar installers. Evaluate each candidate's experience and consider other factors such as: Do they have any unresolved complaints, judgements or liens? Will they provide a list of references?

What is the non-incentive application process?

Download a copy of the application process – PDF 69 KB

How much electricity will my system produce?

In the Tucson area, solar systems typically produce 1,700 kilowatt hours annually per 1 kilowatt of PV installed. Please review the table below for system production estimates.

kW System Estimated Annual System Production
1 kW 1,700 kWh
2 kW 3,400 kWh
3 kW 5,100 kWh
4 kW 6,800 kWh
5 kW 8,500 kWh
6 kW 10,200 kWh
7 kW 11,900 kWh
8 kW 13,600 kWh
9 kW 15,300 kWh
10 kW 17,000 kWh

The typical Tucson household uses 11,000 kWh per year. The average system size in Tucson is 4 kW and produces 6,800 kWh per year, 212 kWh per month or 6.9 kWh per day.

How long will it take for the system to pay for itself?

The simplest way to calculate this is as follows:

  1. Calculate your system cost after federal/state credits.
  2. Estimate the electricity you will not be buying from TEP. This is your system production. This estimate is calculated by multiplying your system size in kilowatts by 1,700.
  3. Multiply your annual system production by your electricity rate. This is your annual savings.
  4. Divide your system cost – calculated in step 1 – by your annual savings – calculated in step 3. This is the years to payback.

While this is an example, real payback depends on several factors including usage, system size, ability to take tax credits, your actual installed system cost, type of PV technology used in the system, and others. The installer will be able to assist with running these calculations when you contact them.

Note that there is an intangible societal benefit not included in these calculations. It can be difficult to put a price tag on your contribution to the environment.

What is the minimum PV array size allowed?

The PV array size must at least 1.2 kW for grid-tied systems.

Do all systems need to meet the UL-1703 standard?

Yes. All photovoltaic modules must be certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory as meeting the requirements of UL-1703. All other electrical components must be UL listed. This includes the inverter, which must be certified as meeting the requirements of IEEE-1547 and must be UL-1741 certified.

Does TEP allow customers to self-install PV systems?

Yes. Installation must follow applicable codes and standards. TEP reserves the right to discontinue this option if TEP finds self-installed systems do not adhere to applicable codes and standards or exhibit poor quality workmanship.

What are the available state and federal tax credits?

Consult with a tax professional about current tax credits available to you for a renewable energy system. You can also view federal and state tax credits at dsireusa.org.

Am I really making a difference in the environment if I install a solar PV system?

Absolutely! As customers use the energy from their solar PV systems, they use less power from the utility. This allows us to reduce the amount of fuel used at our power plants, thus reducing emissions. Together, we are working today for a bright tomorrow.

Are there additional resources that I can review?

  • All systems shall be installed with a horizontal tilt angle between 10 degrees and 60 degrees, and an azimuth angle of +/- 100 degrees of due south.
  • A system must include a dedicated performance meter (on grid-tied systems, supplied by TEP) to allow for monitoring of the amount of electricity produced.
  • Photovoltaic modules must be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 20 years.
  • All photovoltaic modules must be certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory as meeting the requirements of UL Standard 1703.
  • All other electrical components must be UL listed.
  • The inverter must be certified as meeting the requirements of IEEE-1547 — Recommended Practice for Utility Interface of Photovoltaic Systems — and it must be UL 1741 certified.
  • The utility meter, inverter, and utility disconnect will be installed in a location readily accessible by TEP during normal business hours.
  • PV Production meter sets, and net meter exchanges will be delayed for any project that has not followed the Non-Incentive Residential PV Application Process.

Get Started

  1. Contact a licensed solar installer for an estimate. Please refer to the AZROC website.
  2. Meet with your installer to complete all required TEP program documents. Installer is responsible for submitting the appropriate application for your system.
  3. TEP will review your online application and submitted program documents, to ensure it conforms to program requirements
  4. TEP will respond with a reservation acceptance letter. The letter will be emailed direct to the customer within 30 days upon receipt of properly completed reservation packet and online application.
  5. Installer notifies TEP that installation is complete by submitting the Certificate of Completion to TEP.
  6. TEP, at their discretion, will perform an acceptance test to verify system performance.
  7. TEP installs solar production meter and will exchange billing meter for a net-billing meter upon receiving the Certification of Completion from installer and notification of approved final electrical inspection form.

Online Application

Residential Solar Application – complete the online form »

Documents

Visit the Southern Arizona Solar Standards Board website to learn more about best practices in solar installation.