Solar PTO: Its Meaning and Importance When Making the Switch to Solar
When installing a residential solar power system, there are various permit and inspection procedures you should be aware of and understand as you make the switch. One of those processes is called permission to operate (PTO). This is typically the final step before your solar energy system can be connected to the utility grid. Upon receiving your solar PTO, your local utility company approves turning on (or “energizing”) your solar panels, allowing you to begin generating clean electricity for your home.
As your solar installation partner, Blue Raven Solar is with you through every step of the process. We ensure the permitting, installation, inspection, and all other procedures happen smoothly, safely, and in a timely manner, including the typical PTO process.
If your specific location requires additional steps or follows unique state, regional, or community regulations, we will guide you through the process for a quick and successful completion.
The solar interconnection installation process involves two major steps:
- Applying for interconnection
- Receiving PTO solar
Applying for interconnection is an approval process through your local utility company and is required before your solar panels can be installed. The application includes detailed information about your property, your electricity usage, and the design of your solar power system. The utility company will review your application and check whether your solar system meets safety and technical standards.
With approval, installation of your solar panels can proceed. Once your panels are ready to operate, receiving PTO requires passing a local inspection and a utility inspection:
- Local inspection is usually done by a city building or electrical inspector who will verify your solar panel system complies with local codes and regulations.
- The utility inspection or verification is done by a representative from your utility company who verifies and approves the local inspection results while checking your solar system is compatible with the electrical grid and meets net metering requirements.
Essentially, PTO is a document your utility company issues to you after they inspect and approve your solar panel installation.
Blue Raven Solar will handle all the required permits and utility interconnection for net metering. We will also contact your utility company to get you started with the net metering program (if available). These are compensation programs providing energy credits for any excess electricity your solar system contributes to the grid, with compensation rates varying by utility company and geographical location. For more information about net metering, visit Understanding Net Metering.
Is PTO Necessary?
You may be wondering if all these permits and approvals are necessary to enjoy clean, renewable energy. Because the electrical grid is something everyone in your community relies on, all of these permits and approvals are in place to ensure it is protected, making it important to follow the process. Some of the possible risks and consequences of turning on your solar panel system before gaining PTO include:
- Violating your interconnect agreement with the utility company, potentially voiding your contract or preventing you from using your system in the future.
- Operating with a defect the PTO inspection could uncover, which could result in damage or danger to life and property.
- Getting double-billed for the electricity your system produces and sends back to the grid, as the utility company may not see your usage correctly and will not provide the proper credits or payments.
- Being fined or penalized by the utility company for breaking their rules and regulations.
It is best to check with your utility company or trust Blue Raven Solar to handle the process—and not turn on your solar panel system before PTO. Be smart, keep safe, and follow the instructions and guidelines set by the professionals.
How to Get PTO for Your Solar System
Obtaining PTO is a part of the overall process of adding a rooftop solar system to your home. You can expect three general phases:
In this beginning phase, your installer submits an application to the utility company on your behalf. The utility will review and approve the documents and send any installation requirements to the contractor.
At this phase, your installer securely mounts the racking, panels, and inverter on your roof. They will also add the wires running from the inverter to your electrical meter, which typically needs to be switched out or reprogrammed to count the power going into the grid from your panels as well as what your home pulls from the grid.
In this final phase, your system is inspected by your city and your installer will submit the application for PTO. The utility company will then send out a technician to install a new meter or reprogram your existing one. After the new meter is in place, they will issue your PTO and you will be able to energize your system.
How Long Does Obtaining PTO Take?
The time you can expect to wait to receive PTO solar for interconnection can vary depending on your location, your utility company, and the size and type of your solar system. Generally, it takes about a month, on average, to apply for interconnection, and another month, to receive PTO for residential solar systems.
The cost of interconnection may include an application fee, inspection fee, meter fee, and other charges depending on your utility company’s policies. When you choose Blue Raven Solar, we cover all of these fees and the PTO process is typically faster as our team works closely with local authorities to make it easy for you.
We will send you emails throughout the PTO application process to keep you up-to-date on the progress and request the necessary information and signatures. Once we receive your PTO from your local utility, we will notify you and include the next steps on energizing your system.
Experience the Blue Raven Solar Advantage
Blue Raven Solar teams are expert in getting you through the approval and inspection processes to make your rooftop solar installation straightforward and simple. We work with you to find the best solution for your energy needs, lifestyle, and budget, and we will guide you through how to secure PTO solar approvals with minimal hassle.
We are here to assist you through each step. Reach out to see how you can save time and money by going solar with Blue Raven Solar.
Get a free solar savings estimate today!