Distributed generation is the new term on the block in our continually evolving energy industry. Distributed generation (DG) refers to power generation at the point of consumption. Generating power on-site through DG, which in many cases makes use of alternative energy sources (not fossil fuels), can be beneficial: It reduces the amount of energy lost in transmitting electricity because the electricity is generated very near where it is used.
ECI REC wants and needs to be your partner if you are considering installing a distributed generation facility. It’s likely your facility will not supply power to you all the time, and you will still want to be connected to our power grid to ensure your lights stay on reliably. There are also serious safety implications if your DG facility is not properly installed and interconnected with our system.
The DG process can be complex, and ECI REC wants to make sure our members have the tools they need to decide whether a DG facility is the right choice for them. See the checklist below or download it as a PDF.
Distributed Generation Checklist
- Establish a thorough record-keeping process. Retain all research that you gather and information that is provided by vendors. If you proceed with a distributed energy system, you will want to track actual system performance against expected performance based on vendor information.
- Complete a thorough energy efficiency audit and implement recommendations.
- Contact Frank Weber at ECI REC to discuss your interest in a distributed generation system. A cooperative representative will provide you with credible resources to assist you with the information gathering and analysis processes.
- Understand ECI REC’s interconnection policies and procedures.
- Review safety guidelines with ECI REC staff.
- Analyze your electric loads. Evaluate times of peak energy usage and fluctuation periods during the day and throughout the year.
- Determine the distributed generation fuel source (e.g. solar, wind, etc.).
- Determine the size of the distributed generation system that is needed to meet your energy needs and where the system will be located.
- Contact city, county, and state officials for codes and regulations that must be followed for the installation and operation of a distributed generation system. Understand what types of permits will be necessary for your system.
- Contact the Iowa Energy Center (www.iowaenergycenter.org). The Iowa Energy Center’s skilled professionals are experts in renewable energy. Based on your preliminary research, they will advise you of additional resources and help you to understand the economics of a distributed generation system and which type of resource is most likely to be appropriate for your needs.
- Investigate financing options and federal and state incentives with the Iowa Energy Center. Also, refer to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org) to access information about the abundance of available incentives.
- Check with your accountant or tax advisor and property insurer to ensure that you have the appropriate policies in place and that you meet all tax obligations.
- Schedule a follow-up meeting with Frank Weber at ECI REC to discuss your plans for the project. Remember, cooperative staff is available at any stage throughout the process, and we encourage you to contact us as frequently as you have questions.
- Plan that upon project completion, the state of Iowa will require an electrical inspection.
- Track information to evaluate the performance of your distributed energy system.
- Stay in ongoing contact with ECI REC to ensure efficient and transparent two-way communication.