The Truth About Solar

You may have recently noticed an uptick in advertisements, solicitations and installations for solar systems. Perhaps you you're curious about solar systems, how they work or how Modern Electric Water Company is involved.

In short, a solar system (photovoltaic roof panels, inverters and other interconnecting equipment) allows a property owner to generate some of their own energy and receive credit for any excess energy that is not used on site. At Modern, the existing electric meter tracks all energy that is delivered to or received from the customer.

That's it – it's that simple.

But getting started (designing, installing, setting up and executing utility agreements) involves a few more steps.

Washington state law specifies that electric utilities must allow Net Metering – the mechanism by which certain renewable energy systems can be connected to an electric utility and potentially provide billing benefits. Modern has a Net Metering program, and our utility adheres to state requirements.

However, that is where our involvement stops. Modern does not partner with, favor or promote any particular vendor, contractor, agency or other program related to customer-owned solar.

Any agreement or contract that you sign with a "solar company" is between you and that company, and any utility-related financial benefit(s) claimed should be verified first with Modern Electric Water Company.

Most importantly, we want to help you avoid the headaches of falling victim to popular solar scams.

Like most industries, there are both well-intentioned and not-so-reputable players. Some solar contractors claim their system will "pay for itself" or that they will "handle everything, including all utility paperwork."

We've heard of solar companies claiming your electricity bill will disappear after installing solar and that you can kick your utility to the curb. Others have promised that you can put solar panels on your house for "free." In reality, most solar systems are costly. And residents are unlikely to see a return on investment for 23-30 years. Even with solar panels, your energy bill depends on your Net Metering agreement and your electricity usage.

Please be aware that the assumptions used in calculating a solar system's pay-back may be dubious, at best. They may ignore existing energy use and current low energy rates. (Modern already has some of the lowest energy rates in America.) They might use wildly inflated future rate increases. Or they could have extremely long pay-back timeframes, etc.

Additionally, Modern requires that the Modern customer – not the contractor – sign both the utility's Net Metering application and the subsequent Interconnection and Net Metering agreement.

Since 1905, Modern Electric Water Company has been providing the Spokane Valley with safe, reliable, cost-based electricity and water. Our primary concern is serving our customers fairly and for the long term. While there is a wealth of solar information available online – and you may hear overwhelmingly positive claims from solar marketing firms – we encourage you to reach out to Modern to verify or answer any questions you may have. We can be reached at or (509) 928-4540.

For more information, check out Modern’s Net Metering Information Guide.