8 Questions to Consider Before Installing Rooftop Solar

“Free energy from the sun and lower electric bills… Where do I sign up?”

If you decide to install solar panels, finding a licensed, qualified contractor for the job is extremely important.

The benefits of installing rooftop solar panels may seem like a no-brainer, but the reality is, not every home (and homeowner’s situation) is always right for solar.

There are several factors to consider before pulling the trigger on a rooftop solar system, like determining if your home will receive enough sun to achieve your goals, finding the right contractor, negotiating contracts and other important details.

Investing in solar for your home is a major decision. If you’re considering rooftop solar, Peace River Electric Cooperative can help.

Here are eight questions to consider before installing rooftop solar panels.

  1. What are my goals? If your primary goal is to save money on electric bills, you may be able to achieve this through our free energy audit program, which can identify areas of the home for maximum energy savings.
  2. Is my roof suitable for solar? Your roof should be in good condition before installing solar panels. If your roof is old and in poor shape, it may need to be replaced before panels can be mounted. Additionally, your roof should receive a lot of sun to make the most of a rooftop system. Consider how much sun (and shade) the roof receives and if any trees need to be removed. Solar panels perform best when facing south, so keep this in mind as you think about where the panels will be mounted.
  3. How long will I own the home? If you’re considering rooftop solar, you’re likely planning to stay in the home for several years. But if you plan to sell the home at some point down the road, consider that not all potential buyers will want to maintain a rooftop solar system. If you enter a contract to lease the system, carefully review the terms and what those mean if you decide to sell the property.
  4. Lease or purchase? Purchasing a rooftop solar system outright is expensive, which is why many homeowners opt to lease their solar panels. However, federal tax credits can help cover some of the costs for a new system. Regardless of how you decide to finance the solar system, make sure you get several quotes from qualified contractors.
  5. Can the contractor provide up-to-date documentation? It may seem obvious but be sure to request proof and documentation of the contractor’s licensing, permitting and other credentials. Comb through company reviews, check the contractor’s status with Better Business Bureau, etc.––do your homework on the front end before signing a contract.
  6. Does the contract seem reasonable and fair? If you decide to hire a contractor to install rooftop solar, carefully read the fine print of the contract. Do the system performance calculations seem realistic? Does the project timeframe sound reasonable? Negotiate the contract terms to fit your goals and needs.
  7. Who will maintain the solar panels? Determining who is responsible for maintaining the solar panels will depend on who owns the system. If you lease the system from a solar installer, it may be their responsibility. Periodically, solar panels need to be cleaned as dirt and debris can impact panel productivity. Parts may also need to be replaced, so it’s important to know who will take on these responsibilities.
  8. How will I work with PRECO? Finally, but equally important, you should contact PRECO if you decide to install solar. The system must be connected to the electric grid, so you’ll need to sign an interconnection agreement. We can walk you through the steps, including how our solar rates work. Visit for a general overview of how you can work with us on connecting your new rooftop solar system. Use our online Rooftop Solar Assessment Tool to help you determine cost estimates, how long it will take to the system to pay for itself and more.

For many homeowners, solar panels are a great way to help the environment and save on electric bills––but there are many factors to consider before diving in and installing a system.

Before deciding to go solar, do plenty of research upfront, and contact PRECO if you have questions. We’re your local energy partner and can serve as a helpful resource throughout the process.


PRECO Closely Monitoring Idalia

Monday, August 28, 2023 

Wauchula, Fla. – Peace River Electric Cooperative is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia’s projected path and encourages our member-consumers to do the same.

PRECO is committed to restoring power to each of our members as quickly and safely as possible. The cooperative has a proven emergency response plan to guide storm preparation and restoration efforts. PRECO employees undergo annual training to prepare for emergencies, such as hurricanes and storms.

If needed, mutual aid crews from other electric cooperatives are on standby to help PRECO restore power. Mutual aid crews and resources are crucial to power restoration following major storms.

Please remember that improper generator hookups can be life-threatening for line crews repairing electric lines and equipment. A generator attached to a home electrical system must have a proper transfer switch installed by a qualified electrician to provide safe backup power. This device prevents the deadly backfeed of electricity onto power lines.

For your safety, never approach downed power lines. They may be energized or could become so at any time. Downed lines can cause injury or even death.

To report an outage, use SmartHub in PRECO’s mobile app or online member portal, text the word OUT to 800-282-3824 or call 800-282-3824. For updates, find PRECO on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) or visit

Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO), a Touchstone Energy® distribution electric cooperative headquartered in Wauchula, Florida, provides electric service and energy solutions to more than 61,000 member-consumers in 10 central Florida counties: Brevard, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee, Osceola, Polk and Sarasota Counties. The cooperative was formed in 1940 as a member-owned, not-for-profit organization.

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Beekeeper Takes Sting Out of a Sticky Situation

3 images: Bee Lady holding honeycomb, PRECO lineworker suiting up to help, beekeeper looking inside wire spoolPeace River Electric Cooperative’s bee problem apparently developed this spring when a colony of honeybees built a hive inside a nearly empty wooden wire reel at the co-op’s Indian Lake Estates district facility.

Several times in recent months, Logan Hill, apprentice line technician, was stung while retrieving wire reels. He told managers about the problem and showed them where the bees lived.

“The hole they were going into was the hub of a wire reel,” said Dave Osburn, eastern division operations supervisor. “We didn’t want to aggravate the bees by disturbing the reel, so we called in a professional.”

Kristin Miners, known as The Bee Lady, and an assistant soon arrived at PRECO’s materials yard with her gear. Realizing that removing the hive would be different from her typical encounters, she recruited a PRECO volunteer.

Hill’s previous history with the bees prompted his fellow employees to encourage him to take on the job. Trading his normal personal protective gear for a bee suit, he stepped up to help Miners reach the hive.

Hill used a forklift to expose the bee-filled reel, which cleared the way for the beekeepers to work. Using smoke to control the bees, the top of the real was removed exposing the hive and fresh honey without sending the bees into a defensive frenzy.

“I was pretty comfortable in the bee suit, and this time, I didn’t get stung at all,” said Hill.

“They were all right there in the center area of the barrel,” said Miners, who estimates that the hive contained as many as 60,000 bees. The amount of honey and the color of the wax indicated that it was probably established sometime in February.

Hill went home with a cache of fresh honey, about half the total amount Miners recovered.

“I strained it out and put it in jars and brought back some to the office so people could sample it,” said Hill, adding that he also kept a piece of honeycomb as a souvenir.

Miners left a transport hive, baited with collected honey and some of the combs, to attract bees that were out foraging when the removal occurred. It was retrieved the next day, and the colony now operates from a safer, less intrusive location.

Story adapted from National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Electric Co-op News senior editor-writer Derrill E. Holley.


If You See a Light Out, Let Us Know

A lineman in a bucket works to repair a streetlight
PRECO lineworker Coston Bryan works to repair a light at a local business

If you see burned-out or damaged light on Peace River Electric Cooperative’s lines, please report it on our website, through our SmartHub mobile app or by calling 800-282-3824.

Please provide:

  • A description of the problem
  • The location of the streetlight or outdoor light
  • The pole number where the light is attached
  • Your name, account number and contact information

Thank you for helping keep our streets and neighborhoods illuminated at night.


When Will My Power Be Restored? And Other Storm Restoration Questions

Stay back, stay safe traffic sign. Downed power pole and lines. Always assume downed lines are energized. On September 28, 2022, Hurricane Ian slashed across Peace River Electric Cooperative’s service area, leaving a path of destruction. Approximately 300 poles were broken or downed, over 100 transformers were damaged, and a majority of PRECO electric services were without power.

In the days following the storm, our members asked many questions about the power restoration process. As we enter the 2023 Hurricane Season, let’s focus on the most common questions.

When will my power come back on?

Unfortunately, no one can accurately answer this question, and we don’t want to mislead you by guessing. Repairing extensive hurricane damage is like peeling an onion. As crews progress, often other problems are discovered, which must be fixed before power is restored. We aim to restore power quickly without compromising anyone’s safety.

Why don’t I see trucks in my neighborhood?

Our substations receive power from the statewide grid before being distributed onto our power lines. For power to travel to you, crews must start at the substation and work outward toward your location. Power crews are at work, even if you don’t see them in your area yet.

What if there is a power line down in my yard?

I can’t say this strongly enough: never touch downed power lines! Don’t risk injury or death by approaching lines, moving lines, or touching anything entangled in the lines. To report downed lines and hazards, call us at 800-282-3824 or dial 9-1-1.

What if I have medical issues?

After a hurricane, power could be off for days. If you rely on electric-powered medical equipment and have no backup power source, please move to an alternate location until power is restored.

How can I get updates after a storm?

When thousands of members are without power, it is physically impossible to answer every call. So, we have communication channels you can visit for updates. See page 29 of this magazine for details.

The bottom line is that PRECO employees and mutual aid workers are committed to restoring your electric service as quickly and safely as possible. We take our responsibility to power the community seriously and will keep working until power is restored for all.


2023 PRECO Scholarship Recipients

Operation Round Up, Peace River Electric Cooperative’s charitable foundation, granted $106,000 in college scholarships to 23 local students in 14 schools and colleges. Since its launch in 2005, Operation Round Up has provided 257 college scholarships amounting to more than $1.2 million in the cooperative’s 10-county service area.

“The charitable foundation is pleased to help bolster our local community by supporting hardworking, determined students,” says Ellen Hamel, Operation Round Up board chairperson. “We hope that many of these students will return to this area someday and use their education and talents to serve others.”

To be eligible, student applicants must reside in a home served by PRECO, maintain good grades, be active in the community and submit an essay describing their life, career and educational goals.

Funding for Operation Round Up comes from the voluntary donations of PRECO’s member-consumers who allow their monthly electric bills to be “rounded up” to the next dollar. Funds collected are used to help local families and organizations with food, shelter, clothing, health, and education needs.

Learn more about Operation Round Up.

View Student Photos.

2023 Scholarship Recipients by School
1 Yencik, Michael Cardinal Mooney CHS  $            8,000
2 Jurado, Jaqueline Hardee HS  $            8,000
3 Alderman, Karlie Hardee HS  $            4,000
4 Hernandez-Santiago, Magdalena Hardee HS  $            1,000
5 Mondragon, Robert Hardee HS  $            1,000
6 Chandley, Gabriel Lake Wales HS  $            4,000
7 Martin, Elias Lakewood Ranch HS  $            8,000
8 Hotaling, Madelyn Lakewood Ranch HS  $            4,000
9 Schmidt, Erika Lakewood Ranch HS  $            4,000
10 Thornhill, Tierney Lakewood Ranch HS  $            4,000
11 Wagner, Jessica Lakewood Ranch HS  $            4,000
12 Panzarino, Nicholas Lynn University  $            4,000
13 Zapata, Giovan Palmetto HS  $            4,000
14 Wagner, Carson Parrish Community HS  $            4,000
15 Chafloque, Kevin Southeast HS  $            8,000
16 O’Dell, Keile Southeastern University  $            4,000
17 Millican, Justin St. Stephen’s Episcopal  $            8,000
18 Bowers, Christopher State College of Fla  $            4,000
19 Thompson, Jessica Tulane University  $            4,000
20 Chen, Bryan University of Fla  $            4,000
21 Tyler, Mallory University of Fla  $            4,000
22 Zewdie, Anteneh University of Fla  $            4,000
23 Brown, Stephanie University of Sou Fla  $            4,000
 Grand Total   $   106,000

Efficiency Upgrades to Help You Save This Summer

LED lightbulb on a wood tableSpring is a great time for home upgrades and DIY projects. If you’re planning on making home improvements, consider upgrades that promote better efficiency.

Here are a few projects that can help you save energy and money––and increase the comfort of your home.

Installing a smart thermostat is one of the simplest ways to manage home energy use and keep summer bills in check. Smart thermostats are easy to install and allow you to control your heating and cooling system from your phone. Smart thermostats sell for as low as $100 and may save you 8% on annual heating and cooling costs, about $50 per year. This upgrade will quickly pay for itself, and you’ll gain insight into your heating and cooling habits.

Smart LED bulbs provide both convenience and energy savings. With smart lighting, you can schedule when and how your lights turn on or off. And the next time you head out to run errands and realize you left the lights on, simply turn them off through your phone. Smart lights, available for indoors or outdoors, come in many shapes, colors, and brightness levels. Smart lights can illuminate your home at night and when you’re out of town for better security.

Sealing air leaks around your home is a simple, effective way to save energy and lower your bills. Applying weather stripping around doors and windows reduces energy waste and may instantly make your home more comfortable. Using caulk around windows and doors can also improve the seal of your home.

Adding insulation to an under-insulated home can make a big impact on reducing energy use and costs. Typically, insulation costs can be recouped in a few years, and your home will immediately feel more comfortable.

If you want to make your home more energy efficient but are unsure where to start, contact PRECO’s Energy Services Department at 800-282-3824 to schedule a free energy audit. An energy audit can easily identify areas to boost efficiency and help you determine the projects you want to tackle first based on your budget and needs.


Come to PRECO’s Annual Meeting

Saturday, March 18th
PRECO Park, 220 Knight Road, Wauchula, Florida
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Registration
1:00 p.m. – Business Meeting2022 Annual Meeting images: a bluegrass band, antique car, children's games, a prize-winner with TV

Door prizes awarded after the business meeting!

Registered members receive a $10 electric bill credit

Free Food, Games and Prizes

  • Hot Dogs
  • Soft Drinks
  • Ice Cream
  • Fries
  • Kettle Corn
  • Funnel Cakes
  • Kids play area
  • Informational & educational booths
  • Great door prize drawings for registered PRECO members

Southern Express Bluegrass Band

Back by popular demand, Southern Express consists of six talented musicians. This local group brings hard-driving entertainment through a blend of bluegrass, gospel and country music favorites.

Joey Foley

Long-time central Florida singer, songwriter and entertainer. Joey and his guitar will take you back in time with good ol’ Classic Country Music!

Antique Car Show

  • See the cars and trucks of yesterday. If you’d like to display your antique vehicle, call Jeff Cornelius at 800-282-3824 ext. 4636.
  • Bring your photo ID to register
  • No smoking, no alcohol permitted. No pets (service animals only). Photos will be taken at this event for publications/social media
  • For faster registration, bring your recent electric bill with the scannable QR code

Pay-As-You-Go with PrePaid Power

Food, gas and cell phone minutes are some of the goods and services we typically buy before actually using. With Peace River Electric Cooperative’s PrePaid Power service, you control when and how much you pay for electricity. It’s up to you.

Eliminate Security Deposits and Fees

Traditional Monthly Bill Deposit: $200 & up        PrePaid: $0
Traditional Monthly Bill Late Fee: $10                    PrePaid: $0
Traditional Monthly Bill Reconnect Fee: $40      PrePaid: $0
Traditional Monthly Bill Collection Fee: $30        PrePaid: $0

Simple, easy, no hassles

No due dates. Pay on your own schedule.
No monthly bills. You’ll receive low-balance alerts by text, email or phone.
Pay what you can afford when you need more power.
You’re in control of your energy bill.

How does it work?

PRECO’s PrePaid Power works like refueling your car. You fill up the car, drive it until the gas gauge gets low, then add more fuel. Similarly, with PrePaid Power your account balance decreases as you use electricity. When your account balance gets low, you simply add more funds to your account.

Convenient payment options

  • Log in to your online account at or our SmartHub app on your mobile phone or tablet
  • Visit a payment kiosk at one of our three offices, 24/7
  • Pay by phone at 855-386-9924
  • Authorize automatic payments by credit card or banking/checking account with AutoPay
  • Visit a MoneyGram store near you

How to sign up

Simply complete an enrollment form online at or call us at 800-282-3824.