FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On August 3, Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) issued a press release to address some misconceptions it has heard from customers regarding the cost and process of installing solar panels on residential homes.

“There are many factors that determine if a solar system will make sense for a customer,” the release states. “And SWEPCO encourages residents to educate themselves before making an investment.”

SWEPCO stated that it recently “learned of solar companies mispresenting SWEPCO’s role related to residential solar.” It added that the company does not sell solar panels and will not engage in door-to-door solicitation.

SWEPCO wants customers to consider the following before investing in a solar upgrade:

Should you lease or buy?

  • When you lease a solar panel system, you can use the power it produces, but a third party owns it. You then pay that company to lease the equipment.
  • When you purchase a system, you pay upfront to install and own the panels or finance the purchase and pay the costs of the equipment plus interest over time (typically 7-25 years).
  • You are also responsible for maintenance and repairs.

SWEPCO notes that customers will still get an electric bill.

  • Typically, solar panels are a supplement to your electric service with SWEPCO. A solar system cannot operate independently of the electric grid unless it is specifically designed to provide backup power.
  • When there is limited or no sunlight, you’ll need to be connected to the electric grid to power your home.
  • Most solar panels automatically shut off during a power outage for safety reasons, so during a daytime service interruption, solar panels may not power your home.
  • Staying connected to the electric grid is necessary if you want to be compensated for the excess energy your solar panels generate that your home doesn’t immediately use. The compensation rate is subject to change.

SWEPCO suggests that customers ask some questions before investing, such as:

  • How long has the company selling solar been in business, and how many solar installations have they done?
  • Do they use subcontractors, or do they work themselves?
  • Are they bonded and insured and licensed to do business in your state?
  • What warranties apply to the equipment?
  • Who is responsible for permits and tests?
  • Who do you call for maintenance if needed?
  • How much does it cost to take the solar panels off in the event of roof problems?
  • What other pieces of equipment are necessary for the system to work besides panels and inverters?

You can calculate your own potential Return on Investment here.