Solar power contributes to our mix of clean energy sources that help power our grid every day. It’s a resource we continue to research and explore. It’s also one we can help you better understand and harness through our clean energy solutions for your home or business.
Solar power is clean energy, generated from a renewable energy source through an emission-free process, which also emits no noise or odor-pollution. This energy is converted from sunlight directly into electricity. The conversion happens when sunlight hits solar cells, also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells, arranged in a module or panel.
In addition to using solar in our generation mix, we have a team dedicated to researching new and more efficient ways to tap into this clean energy source. We built the first Smart Neighborhood in Alabama, which utilizes solar energy through a community-scale power system, or microgrid, built to generate energy for the neighborhood. The microgrid can generate over 600,000 kWh of energy annually. It includes solar panels, battery storage and a backup generator. Homes receive energy from both the microgrid and the existing electric grid.
There are some challenges around storage of renewable energy sources like solar. So, we are also looking at ways to advance the use and technology of batteries paired with solar, which will assist in making solar more reliable in providing power to our customers. The use of batteries helps store the sun’s energy, so we can tap into it when the sun goes does at night and on cloudy days.
We also work with businesses looking to support clean energy projects, like building solar plants in Alabama. Solar plants are large-scale installations of solar panels mounted on the ground, designed to capture a maximum amount of energy when the sun is shining. Today, an estimated average of seven acres of land is needed to generate one megawatt of power using solar energy.
We currently have five solar plants online or in development, with two more recently approved. To find out more about operating solar plants in our service territory, visit our plants page. Businesses can choose to support these projects or the development of new ones, helping them meet their clean energy goals. And, if you’re not ready to subscribe to a project, we also offer other programs to help your business meet its clean energy goals.Clean Energy Solutions for Businesses
Thinking about installing a solar electric system for your home or business? We do not sell solar panels or provide solar installation services, but we are here to help you check all the boxes – like learning more about how it will impact your meter, how to ensure you’ll always have enough power, and what you need to get started.
There are several other factors to consider before choosing to install rooftop solar panels:
Potential restrictions. Be sure to check your local zoning ordinances for any restrictions and inspection requirements and consult with your homeowner’s association before installing solar panels.
Maximum sunlight. Make sure you have a location with maximum sunlight and no shading between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Battery storage. Due to inconsistent levels of sunlight, many customers interested in installing solar panels will pair their system with a battery storage unit. When there’s not enough sunlight, these units allow you to tap into power that was generated during peak solar levels.
If you're looking for an easier and faster solution, you may want to consider our Clean Energy Select program. It allows you to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs), which represent energy generated from clean energy sources, like solar, to help power your home. You can choose from several plans to meet your clean energy goals and budget.