Enviro Girl and her husband have been exploring renewable sources of energy for a few years now. They’ve decided that solar is the best route to provide their electricity for a few reasons. First, wind is a dicey proposition, not quite as reliable as the sun. Second, turbines have moving parts and in their experience, more moving parts means more maintenance and more potential for Things to Go Wrong. Third, turbines can create friction with neighbors.
The beauty of solar panels is how still and quiet they are–absorbing the sun’s rays, creating energy to be converted to the grid, not moving and not calling any attention to themselves. All of these reasons convinced Enviro Girl and her hubby to narrow the field strictly to solar energy.
What they’ve learned is that solar panels are expensive–no two ways about it. Yet their electric bill shows no signs of flagging and as long as they don’t plan to move within the next ten years (they don’t), they’ll earn back their investment.
Some fun things Enviro Girl and her husband learned from a contractor this past weekend include:
1. Installing solar panels will earn a tax credit equal to 30% of the entire cost–including installation and tax. This tax credit can be rolled over into another year if maxed out the first year.
2. Focus on Energy grant money is available–a cash rebate worth $3000 or more 60 days after installation.
3. Solar panels have a 25 year warranty and the contractor they’re working with has only replaced one in his career. Pretty impressive.
4. Installing solar panels CANNOT affect their tax assessed value of their property, but it will increase the value of their home. Win-win!
5. There’s a groovy program called SRECTrade which allows homeowners to double-dip into their energy production by selling the worth of their solar-generated power to buyers required by law to purchase a certain percentage of their energy from “green” sources. By signing up for this program, homeowners can sell their solar power to the grid they’re connected to directly and sell their Solar Renewable Energy Certificates via SRECTrade for their market value each month. Doing this allows a homeowner earn additional cash for the energy output of their system. Factoring this program into the equation means Enviro Girl and her husband could get their solar panels to pay for themselves even sooner.
They also learned that they can install nearly any size of system to provide for any percentage of their electric needs. The key to solar is access to sunlight. By mounting solar panels on a roof, space is not a factor, but Enviro Girl’s husband is partial to a ground-mounted system (less expensive and since they live on 60 acres, not unreasonable either). The contractor agreed that the ideal spot lies south of their house in a field clear of trees.
Stay tuned as Enviro Girl and Mr. D continue their solar adventures!