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How Does Solar Energy Work

Solar Energy works by harnessing the energy emitted by the sun in the form of sunlight and converting it into usable electricity through various technologies, primarily through photovoltaic (PV) cells in Solar Panels. 

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1

Sunlight hits the Solar Panels and the photovoltaic (PV) cells in the panels convert the sunlight into an electric current (DC). 

 

2

The electric current flows to the inverter(s), which converts DC electricity to AC, the most commonly used form of electricity.

 

3

The AC electricity flows from the inverter(s) to the breaker box, which directs the current to any appliance in the building that is using electricity. 

 

4

Unused electricity flows through a utility meter into the grid. 

*Electricity is drawn from the grid when the building needs more energy than your solar produced.

 

A South-Facing solar array produces over 90% of its daily energy output during a 6-hour time window (roughly 3 hours before, and 3 hours after high-noon). Therefore, a solar array providing a 100% energy offset for a home or business will produce nearly 24 hours-worth of energy during just a few hours in an average day. 

Ameren customers benefit from a policy called Net-Metering. Net-metering credits exported energy at the same rate that the energy in normally billed, enabling the daily energy export to directly offset night-time energy consumption at a 1:1 rate. Net-Metering is the gold standard of crediting mechanisms for solar energy. Excess Credits at the end of a month roll over from month-to-month. This allows Customers to offset winter-time "under-production" with summer time "over-production".

There is a catch: Ameren Electric has already met the mandated minimum threshold for solar generation on its Illinois grid for net-metering, and the Illinois Commerce Commission has ruled that Ameren no longer needs to offer net-metering after December 31, 2024. So, Ameren Illinois Customers, if you are considering solar, then 2024 is the year!

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