Step-By-Step Solar Guide:  Athens County


Solar Map

Congratulations…You live in a solar-friendly community!


Is solar energy right for my home or business?

Good question! As the solar economy grows across the world, communities are embracing the opportunity to support clean, green power.

In this Step-By-Step Solar Guide, we make sure you are asking the right questions about solar energy. There are many factors to consider when deciding to go solar, so we’ve assembled this easy guide to streamline the process.


Step 1: Conserve energy first


Before asking if solar is a good investment, you should see if there are cheaper ways to reduce your overall energy consumption. If your home or business is not energy efficient, you will be wasting precious solar power through drafty doors, windows, and walls. Get a home/building energy audit to determine how you can reduce your electricity consumption before you pursue a solar installation. By reducing your overall electricity demand on the grid, you won’t need as big of a solar system, potentially saving you thousands!


Step 2: Know the Rules

Does your community have any local permitting, zoning, or inspection rules for solar PV (electric) system installations? Athens County encourages state-approved rooftop solar installations on primary and/or accessory building structures, as well as ground-mounted applications. Solar PV systems must obtain a state-issued building permit, which is often handled by the solar installation company of choice. The application can be submitted with this form: Ohio Building Plan Approval

Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Industrial Compliance, Bureau of Building Code Compliance6606 Tussing Rd.
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-9009

In addition to complying with Ohio building compliance laws, solar PV systems must also follow regulations set by the electric utility that serves you: AEP Ohio or Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (electric co-op utility in Athens County, Ohio). Again, a reputable solar installation company should manage this for you. For additional solar information from each electric utility, please see:

AEP Ohio
AEP Ohio’s Solar Energy Webpage
Interconnecting Your Solar System
AEP Ohio’s Distributed Generation Coordinator:
E-mail: | Phone: 614-883-6775

Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (REC)
Buckeye REC’s Solar 101 Webpage
10 Steps to Take Before Installing Solar
Solar - Step By Step
Solar FAQ's
Questions to Ask a Solar Contractor

Have additional questions regarding solar? Contact Buckeye REC

Step 3: Check your Roof

Most solar PV systems are installed on the roof of a home or business. If the roof is not a suitable option – either because of shade or structural weakness to hold the weight of the solar array – ground-mounted systems can be installed but they are often more costly.

A solar installation provider can help you figure out your where to install and how to pay considerations. A solar PV system is a significant investment. You may want to hire an accountant to help you take advantage of the variety of federal tax-based incentives that come with a solar investment, especially if you’re seeking solar power for your business.

With solar, you can purchase a system outright, with cash or through a loan, or you can lease a solar PV system as part of a power purchase agreement. Each path comes with its own pros and cons.

Step 4: Shop Around for a Solar Installer

Yes – get a quote from multiple installers, if possible. Quotes should contain a roof assessment (Steps 1-3 and an estimate of how much solar power you can expect with a certain number of solar panels installed). The installer should share what type of panels, racks, and inverters will be used. Do some research. 


You have rights as a solar customer. Ask installers for a full cost breakdown, ensuring that you see the full system cost, even without incentives, such as the federal investment tax credit of 30%. Also, ask installers if they offer flexible financing options including a breakdown of the details among various options, such
as securing financing through a loan or line of credit, a power purchase agreement,
or an outright cash purchase.

Select an installer that will manage all necessary requirements with government regulators and will lead communication with the utility for grid interconnection.

Check to see if your solar installer of choice is a licensed contractor with a credentialed electrician on staff. High-quality solar installers carry North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and/or Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) certification, for example. 

The following solar installation companies are located in Athens County, Ohio:

· Third Sun Kokosing Solar
· Appalachian Renewable Power – ARP Solar
· Athens Electric

See this list of Ohio Solar Installers for more Ohio-based installers.


Step 5: Installation and interconnection

You’ve selected your favorite solar installer, you’ve lined up financing, a date on when your solar system will be installed is booked, so now you’re ready to turn on that solar! 

Remember, before you finalize everything, make sure you understand the warranty and maintenance needs of your solar system, the potential liability and insurance needs for your solar investment, and the taxes and tax credits associated with your solar project.

If you’re confident to move forward, your installer will ensure proper safety measures have been met and the electric utility has approved the solar-to-grid connection. Once you’re connected to the grid, the panels will start generating
electricity from the sunlight!

Questions? Get Help!
SOPEC – Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council – manages an opt-out electric aggregation program for its 20 participating communities, including Athens County (unincorporated areas). This program allows the local government to purchase electricity together for its residents and small businesses.

Contact SOPEC: Call 740-597-7955 or email:

The SOPEC Electric Aggregation Program is available to eligible residential and small commercial AEP Ohio accounts located in Athens County.

SOPEC and AEP Energy, the supplier of the SOPEC Electric Aggregation Program, offer one of the most valuable solar net-metering agreements for AEP Ohio customers that have a solar system and are enrolled in the SOPEC Electric Aggregation Program.

The SOPEC solar net-metering agreement serves as a competitive alternative to the investor-owned utilities’ net-metering offer for their Standard Service Offer (SSO) customers (those that aren’t enrolled in a governmental aggregation program or a separate supply contract with a Certified Retail Electric Service (CRES) provider). SOPEC’s net-metering program provides compensation for excess power production at the program rate as a bill credit. 

Read more about Athens County's commitment to development in the Solsmart Solar Statement.