Factors to Consider Before You Begin a Solar Energy Project 
Power is one of the most important elements in your life. Ameren makes it easy to never have to worry about quality, price or reliability.

As someone who has chosen to learn more about how to act as an independent energy generator, you need to be sure to ask all the right questions before you begin - find accurate answers from expert sources, then plan carefully.

    Lower your electric bills and help the environment by improving the energy efficiency of your home. In many cases, it may be more cost-effective to reduce your energy use than to install your own solar energy system. If you do install a solar energy system, you will get the most from your system by using its output efficiently.<br><br> Want to know how to make your home more energy efficient? Visit our <a href="http://www.actonenergy.com" target="_blank">Act On Energy</a> website.
    For photovoltaic equipment, you will need: <ul><li>A location where your PV system will have clear, unobstructed exposure to the sun year-round.</li> <li>A southerly orientation for the PV system.</li> <li>The ability to install the system on a rooftop or the ground.</li></ul>
    You are responsible for designing, installing, operating and maintaining your equipment in accordance with all codes, laws and regulations that apply to your location. Your system must meet local building codes and zoning laws, and you may need permits or special approval from your community or homeowners' association.
    Begin by reviewing your typical energy usage. This can be done by looking at your past electric bills. You can review your account through Ameren’s eCustomer <a href="https://www2.ameren.com/prot/common/BillPaymentHistory2.aspx" target="_blank">View payment & usage information</a>. By reviewing your typical energy usage, you can decide how much power you want to generate yourself. Keep in mind that your PV system will only operate when sunlight is available.<br><br> Dealers and installers can provide you with cost estimates and may also help you size a system for your needs. <br><br> Before choosing a dealer or installer for your project, you should ask: <ul><li>How many years of experience do they have installing systems?</li> <li>How many installations have they done in your area?</li> <li>Are they properly licensed and certified?</li> <li>What warranties do they provide?</li> <li>How will routine maintenance and repairs be handled?</li></ul>
    In addition to the cost of the panels and equipment, consider these additional costs: <ul><li>Installation (labor)</li> <li>Permits</li> <li>Support structure(s)</li> <li>Protective equipment required to interconnect with Ameren's system</li> <li>Wiring</li> <li>Metering</li> <li>Inverter</li> <li>Batteries and other options</li> <li>Sales tax</li> <li>Extended warranties</li></ul> <br>Ongoing Operating Costs: <ul><li>Routine maintenance</li> <li>Repairs not covered by warranty</li> <li>Insurance</li> <li>Property taxes (check with your taxing authority to see if exemptions are available)</li></ul>
    You can choose to operate your solar installation either as a stand-alone generator or in parallel with Ameren.<br> <ul><li>A stand-alone system requires a double-throw transfer switch that isolates your power generator from Ameren's system. The transfer switch ensures that you are receiving power only from your generator or only from an Ameren utility, not both at the same time.<br><br> Since solar energy systems generate electricity intermittently (and not necessarily at the same time you want to use it), you will probably want to include a battery bank in a stand-alone system. The batteries will supply power to your home or business whenever it is needed and will be recharged when sunlight is available. Battery systems can be very expensive. Solar energy system installers can help you estimate the costs.</li><br> <li>If you choose parallel operation, your installation will be designed to accommodate two-way power flow. When the output of your solar generator exceeds what is being used in the home or business, the excess power flows back into Ameren's system. This type of installation avoids the cost of a battery system, but involves additional costs for interconnection, as well as the cost of metering for the excess power sent back to the grid.<br><br> <b>Ameren Missouri</b>: <a href="/sites/aue/Rates/Documents/UECSheet170EPPQFCogen.pdf" target="_blank">Electric Power Purchases from Qualifying Facilities (QF)</a> <br> <a href="/sites/aue/Rates/Documents/UECSheet171EPPNetMetering.pdf" target="_blank">Electric Power Purchases from Qualified Net Metering Units</a> <br> <br><b>Ameren Illinois</b>: <a href="/sites/aiu/Rates/Documents/AIel61rdqf.pdf"target="_blank">Electric Power Purchases from Qualifying Facilities (QF) </a> <br> <a href="/sites/aiu/Rates/Documents/AIelifqf.pdf" target="_blank">Rider QF Informational Filing</a> <br><br> </ul>
    <ul><li>Check your <a href="https://www2.ameren.com/prot/common/billdetails2.aspx" target="_blank">electric bill</a> to determine the price you pay per kilowatthour (kWh). The cost per kWh varies depending on several factors, including your level of consumption and whether you are a residential or business customer. Be sure to calculate the annual average price you pay, since summer rates are higher than winter rates.</li><br> <li>Estimate your savings, including both the value of the unpurchased kilowatthours, as well as the value of any excess kilowatthours sold through net metering.</li><br> <li>Example: Assume a 1 kW PV system can generate about 1,300 kWh annually. If your average price is $0.08 per kWh for electricity, the estimated savings for the 1 kW system would be:<br><br> Savings = 1,300 kWh/year x $0.08/kWh = $104/year <BR><BR> Note: This is only an example. Your actual savings per year may differ. Please refer to <a href="http://www.nrel.gov/rredc/pvwatts/version1.html" target="_blank">PV Watts Calculator</a> for more information.</li>
    PV energy systems are often financed through mortgage loans. Businesses that install PV energy systems will typically use their existing capital sources, usually conventional bank loans or Small Business Administration loans. Special incentives and tax breaks may be available to help fund your project. The following websites provide additional information:<br><br> <ul><li><a href="http://www.eere.energy.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Dept. of Energy – Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.commerce.state.il.us/dceo/Bureaus/Energy_Recycling/Energy/Clean+Energy/01-RERP.htm" target ="_blank">Illinois Renewable Energy Resources Programs</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.dnr.mo.gov/" target=_blank">Missouri Department of Natural Resources</a></li></ul> <br>Learn more about <a href="/Solar/Pages/NetMetering.aspx">interconnection requirements for renewable energy systems</a>.
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