Frequently Asked Questions

Distributed generation allows homes or businesses to generate electricity for onsite use while also being connected to a utility to ensure reliability. To do so, home or business owners or their contractors must complete an application and take steps to ensure their system safely conforms to our standards. However, this process can be confusing, so we have compiled a list of the questions we are asked most often and their answers.

Questions regarding solar generation 

I'm not sure how solar generation works. Can you help?

For information on the basics of solar energy, including the difference between total generation and excess generation, visit www.gosolartexas.org and review the Solar 101 section.

Questions about the application approval process 

What is the approval process for distributed generation?

You or your contractor will need to register on our distributed generation interconnection portal at https://plus.anbetrack.com/cnp-dg/#/ to complete and submit an application for interconnection and parallel operation.

As part of the application process, you or your contractor will need to provide a one-line diagram, a layout diagram of the site/installation, and the make and model of approved inverters and solar panels. Installation inspection photos must also be provided. These will detail all components of the solar panel system design in the one-line diagram (i.e., breakers, inverter, panels, and CenterPoint Energy meter). For small residential systems (less than 25kW AC), an interconnection study is typically not required.

Residential and small commercial applications are processed in the order in which they are received. The system can be installed after the application is design approved. If you are within city limits and a permit is required, the CenterPoint Energy visual inspection will not be processed until the installation has passed the city's inspection.

Once permission to operate (PTO) is granted, we program the meter at your location to capture power consumed (kWh) and excess generated (kWg), which is the electricity not consumed by your home/business, within 24 hours. These values are sent separately to your retail electric provider (REP) and can take as long as three billing cycles to be reflected in your electric bill. CenterPoint Energy will also issue a meter sticker for placement on your meter to indicate to other CenterPoint Energy employees that the system has an application on file for onsite distributed generation.

Contact our team with any questions or concerns at Residential_DG@CenterPointEnergy.com or give us a call at 713-945-4155.

How do I sign the documents you send to me?

You will receive an email from documents@rightsignature.com with a link that will take you to the document(s) you need to sign. Review the document and scroll to the light blue box (or simply click the next field button in the lower right corner). If you are using a mouse, click in the light blue field and drag the mouse pointer in the box opened for signature, then electronically sign your name and apply, add the date signed and apply, then submit and confirm. It will be electronically returned to us.

If you are accessing the documents on a mobile phone, tap on the light blue box, rotate your device to the horizontal position (please make sure your screen is unlocked) and write with your finger or mobile pen. Next click on the date (or simply click the next field box again) and fill in the date. Then, rotate the screen back to the portrait position and click the submit button, then submit again. This will send the document to the next step in the process.

Should I respond to emailed requests for information and/or photos?

The emails we send you are meant for your installer. You were copied to ensure you stay informed about the project's progress. Your installer will provide the requested information, and we encourage you to reach out to the installer to check on your project's status.

My REP says I need an Interconnection Agreement. Do I?

Before operating your equipment, we will send you an Interconnection Agreement (ICA). This is an agreement for interconnection between the customer and CenterPoint Energy that needs to be signed by all parties. Once the ICA is signed, the PTO will be sent and the meter reprogrammed, after which you can operate your system.  If you have not received an ICA, send an email to Residential_DG@CenterPointEnergy.com.

When can I turn on my solar system?

You may not turn your system on until final PTO has been granted. We require this to ensure all safety requirements are properly met.

Turning the solar system on before receiving a PTO will result in an error message on the meter, a CenterPoint Energy employee investigating this error, and delays in sending excess generation information to your REP. This will also put your account in violation status and may put your home, utility linemen, or the surrounding grid equipment at risk.

Once PTO has been received, we request you wait one business day before turning the system on so the meter can be programmed properly. Please contact your installer for additional questions pertaining to turning the solar system on.

How do I correct the spelling of my name on the application or interconnection agreement?

You will need to reach out to your REP and have it update the name in its system. We receive this information from the REP. It may take up to 72 hours for the name change to be reflected in our system.

What is the Pre-Interconnection Study Fee Schedule and how much will I be required to pay?

This fee schedule, which can be found on your application, typically applies to larger systems rather than residential/small solar systems. Once your application is submitted, we will let you know if a study is required and what this fee will be. For reference, however, the table below describes the charges for the different sizes of generation and types (typical size of generation for residences is lower than 10 kW).

Non-Exporting 0 - 10 kW 10+ - 500 kW 500+ - 2000 kW 2000+ - 10,000 kW
Pre-certified, not on network $0 $0 $3,273 $3,520
Non pre-certified, not on network $312 $581 $3,947 $4,194
Pre-certified, on network $272 $1,075 $6,269 $6,516
Non pre-certified, on network $525 $1,150 $6,943 $7,190
Exporting 0 - 10 kW 10+ - 500 kW 500+ - 2000 kW 2000+ - 10,000 kW
Pre-certified, not on network $75 $570 $3,520 $3,767
Non pre-certified, not on network $312 $792 $4,194 $4,441
Pre-certified, on network $272 $1,286 $7,175 $7,422
Non pre-certified, on network $495 $1,645 $7,849 $8,096

What do I do if I don't receive the interconnection agreement or application signature email?

Check your Spam or Trash folder for an email from documents@rightsignature.com. If you don't find it, email us at Residential_DG@CenterPointEnergy.com to have the email resent.

Questions regarding your solar system 

Will my solar panels work during a utility grid outage?

On-grid systems (once approved to interconnect to the utility grid), which adhere to the IEEE-1547 standard and are tested and certified to UL-1741 specifications, require solar inverters to shut off during grid outages (i.e. if the utility grid is shut down, your on-grid system will also shut down). There are backup power options you may use to maintain power during an outage. You will need to contact an installer for more information about these options.

When will CenterPoint Energy inspect and replace the meter?

In most cases, CenterPoint Energy will perform visual inspections using pictures that are submitted by the installer through our online portal. There are exceptions, however, and we reserve the right to perform an onsite visual inspection at any time. For self-install projects, we will schedule an onsite visual inspection.

How do I get a bidirectional meter installed? Do I need a photovoltaic meter?

Most CenterPoint Energy customers already have a bidirectional smart meter installed at their home or business. These meters do not need to be replaced and instead are reprogrammed when PTO is granted to capture and provide the kilowatt hours consumed and kilowatt hours of excess generation. To view the cumulative excess generation values captured by the meter, look at the 029 register value.

Questions on generation credits or billing 

Does CenterPoint Energy purchase the excess electricity my solar system produces?

CenterPoint Energy does not offer net metering, nor do we buy/sell electricity from/to customers. For information on available buy-back programs, contact your REP.

How much are my solar panels generating?

CenterPoint captures excess generation values on your smart meter. You can go to www.smartmetertexas.com to see your electricity consumption in 15-minute intervals and download data showing excess generation exported to the utility grid.

Why don't the solar generation numbers on my electric bill match my generation values?

Your CenterPoint Energy smart meter only captures excess generation. For questions about your electric bill or about available buy-back programs, contact your REP.

What happens to the electricity that does not get used by my home/business?

Your excess generation will be sent to the utility grid for use by others.

When will my bill reflect excess generation credits?

Your smart meter will capture excess generation and send that information to your REP, but it does take time for the REP to program its system to recognize the information. It may take one or two billing cycles for the information to be registered by your REP and for your bill to reflect credit for excess generation funneled back to the utility grid.

How can I be sure my system is working correctly?

You will need to contact your installer to verify proper operation of the system.

Why is my electric bill higher now that I have installed a solar system?

CenterPoint Energy provides the connection from generators to customers but does not bill customers directly. If you have enrolled in a buy-back program with your REP, then your bill is based on usage, excess generation, and rate charge/rate credit. For more information about this, contact your REP.

If you feel that the utility meter is reporting values incorrectly, you can contact your REP and request a meter accuracy test. If your REP advises you to contact CenterPoint Energy, you can call CenterPoint Energy's customer service number 713-207-2222 and request a meter calibration verification. There may be a fee assessed for this test.

Other frequently asked questions 

How is CenterPoint Energy different from my REP?

CenterPoint Energy is a regulated "poles and wires" utility, which means that although we do not sell electricity directly to the end user, we deliver electricity to more than two million customers on behalf of the REPs.

Can I use a portable generator with my solar system?

If you are interested in installing a portable generator and a transfer switch (ATS), you will need to register the equipment with our ATS team. More information on ATS can be found here.

All ATS-related questions can be sent to ATS.Approvals@CenterPointEnergy.com. Find more information on how to request ATS approval here.

The home I just bought/rented has solar panels. How can I turn on the solar system?

You will need to contact us at Residential_DG@CenterPointEnergy.com or 713-945-4155 and go through the application process before turning on your solar system. Once you have gone through the process, we will email a revised ICA to you for signature. After the ICA is signed by all parties, the PTO will be sent and the meter reprogrammed.