SMUD Waives Switch Requirement for Solar Systems to Make Solar Installations Easier

February 28, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) announced that it no longer requires an ac disconnect switch on inverter-based solar systems when the home or business has a self-contained electric meter. Most customers of the electric utility have this kind of meter.

SMUD took this action to help reduce the costs of solar systems and increase the number of systems installed in the electric utility’s service area that includes Sacramento County and a small portion of Placer County (both located in Northern California).

The ac disconnect switch, which can cost as much as $300, is considered a cost barrier to some customers who are considering installing solar panels. The switch is used to isolate the customer’s solar or inverter-based generation from the utility’s distribution system. The same action can be accomplished by temporarily removing the customer’s meter and isolating the customer’s home from the system.

The new policy also applies to other inverter-based systems like fuel cell and rotating machine technologies. In addition, SMUD will no longer request a separate production meter-base be installed, on the installations described above as virtually all inverters listed on the California Energy Commission’s list of eligible inverters include approved onboard metering. Despite this new policy some installations may have configurations that require an ac disconnect to comply with the National Electric Code (NEC), and/or local building code.