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Jeff Wexler

I'm going SOLAR!

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No, it's not like "going postal", I am having solar panels installed on my garage roof.

I am working with Solar City that provides a really good solution --- a solar lease which requires no money up front, they do all the site evaluation, system design, City permits and full professional installation. Once the system goes live, I start monthly payments of $55.00 on the 15 year lease period.

Solar City is responsible for all the equipment and there is a performance guarantee from them. The system they use keeps you connected to the utility grid (in my case, Southern California Edison) and produces enough electricity during daylight hours to meet the demands of my power usage and sell excess electricity back to the utility company. At night when the system is not producing electricity, I buy power from the utility company at low rates. So, my bill from Southern California Edison goes from an average of $210. a month to about $50. a month. Added to the Solar City Lease my total electric bill will be approximately $105.

SolarCity

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Guest Ken Mantlo

Hum... That's the first solar plan that makes fiscal sense (at least on the surface).  Usually solar systems don't pay for themselves until 15 - 20 years down the road.  During the summer my electric bill is $300 to $400 a month.  What happens if you want to get out of the lease, say you're selling the home?

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Thats a cool way to do it. I need to research this and answer some other questions such as the one Ken asked. Maybe you can take some pictures of the project if you have time.

CrewC

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Hum... That's the first solar plan that makes fiscal sense (at least on the surface).  Usually solar systems don't pay for themselves until 15 - 20 years down the road.  During the summer my electric bill is $300 to $400 a month.  What happens if you want to get out of the lease, say you're selling the home?

The first thing I will say about my motivation, even though I did spend most of the time talking about money in my post, is that saving a lot of money right away was not the primary reason. Even if solar were more expensive I would still want to do it.

As for the lease agreement, it is transferable to a new owner and there is every indication that having the solar system installed and working definitely increases the value of the property. At the end of the 15 years you have the option of stopping the lease and the equipment will be removed, you can extend the lease in 5 year increments (and also at that time any upgrades in terms of new technology, etc. will be installed). There is no "lease to purchase" type arrangement at this time. An outright upfront purchase of the entire system is an option, instead of the lease, but this would cost approx. $18,000. even with rebates and incentives.

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OMG, we really are separated at birth Jeff!!!!  Over the last three years I installed a 2KW Solar PV system here in Taos, a three panel Solar Thermal (hot water) system on my home in NY and lastly, a 4KW Solar PV system on my NY home.  The solar electric went online in October and has cut my electric use 75% and that was during the winter months!  I expect it to come in at over 100% for the year.

Each system took advantage of different federal and state subsidies.  The Solar thermal cost $3600 after tax credits and cut my gas bill over $125/month.  The Solar PV in NY cost $7800 after rebates (NY has GREAT rebates) and saves $150/month at current rates.  Remember, these savings are at current utility rates.  The systems have 25 year life spans so the savings will increase as utility rates continue to rise.  They also increase my property value.  And lastly, as you say, they are the right (and essential) thing to do.

Both my PV systems are on line. Check out these links

http://view2.fatspaniel.net/PV2Web/merge?&view=PV/detailDC/HostedAdmin&eid=110343

https://www.sunpowermonitor.com/Residential/customer.aspx#

Congratulations on your system Jeff!!!!

Best,

Billy Sarokin

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Do you get the city/state rebates for doing this or do they go to the install company?  What is the contingency for what happens to the solar system in case of needing to re-roof, or repair the system in case of damage....?

Philip Perkins

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Here in Australia, there is a Govt subsidy of around $7000. The user has to pay the remainder which is anywhere from $4000 up depending on the size of the system. Solar is then pumped back into the grid and the user is paid around 40 cents per KW (I think). As with any rebate scheme though, the price of panels before this system came into being, seemed to be a bit cheaper. (go figure)

Also, there is some controversy at the moment with the Govt wanting to tax pensioners on the 'income' from the grid feed. They are saying that the 40 cents is income therefore they should get taxed on it. They are NOT saying, however, that if an income is being made, that you can claim the original outlay as an income producing expense.

We have friends that live about 30km from us and it was going to cost them close to $100k to get grid power to their gate, so they went completely solar and wind for about $20k less.

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Do you get the city/state rebates for doing this or do they go to the install company?  What is the contingency for what happens to the solar system in case of needing to re-roof, or repair the system in case of damage....?

Philip Perkins

SolarCity, the company, gets the rebates since they own the equipment. The rebates they receive on each installation has allowed them to reduce the overall cost and the lease payment. The company maintains all of the installed parts of the system and they have a performance guarantee. If the system fails for any reason to perform at the same level (within certain established and documented parameters for the installation) they make the necessary repairs, replacements, etc. As for the roof of my house, this is another story. They prefer to install on a roof that is in very good shape. They will not install on a roof they deem to be already close to end of life, in need of re-roofing. It remains to be seen if this will be a stumbling block for me when they do the complete site evaluation and discover that the roof is quite old. I believe it is in surprisingly good shape. Once installed if we do need to re-roof they will remove the panels and replace --- this is something that will be charged to me.

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well, you and I (and everyone else) have been running up quite a debt.

Time to repay.

-Jason

Going green seems to mean that government pays you to do it. But who is the government taxing to pay the subsidies? Certainly not the energy companies -- that can only mean you and me.

RL

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Going green seems to mean that government pays you to do it. But who is the government taxing to pay the subsidies? Certainly not the energy companies -- that can only mean you and me.

RL

You don't HAVE to take the subsidy, if there is one.... 

Philip Perkins

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The government gives tax credits to promote alternative energy and lessen the use of fossil fuels (which are also heavily subsidized).  The government also provides subsidies to promote home ownership (ie, the mortgage interest deduction, the real estate tax deduction, subsidized roads, infrastructure, etc).  They are providing seed money to build an industry, reduce the use of foreign oil, reduce pollution and reduce global warming.  As more people adopt solar energy costs will drop as will the subsidies (both are already happening.  The price of solar panels has come down substantially and New York just dropped it's solar subsidy from $4/watt to $3/watt).

Best,

Billy Sarokin

Going green seems to mean that government pays you to do it. But who is the government taxing to pay the subsidies? Certainly not the energy companies -- that can only mean you and me.

RL

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Going green seems to mean that government pays you to do it. But who is the government taxing to pay the subsidies? Certainly not the energy companies -- that can only mean you and me.

RL

C'mon Richard, did any of our tax dollars go to the ongoing debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan? I would rather have our tax dollars go towards "going green" than "going to war".

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Wow Jeff,

How did war get into this discussion?

I'm for each individual reducing their reliance on the electricity companies and certainly not against solar energy. The government subsidises many industries but few of them are able to do it with out a hand out for help.

50% of the power generating plants in this nation use coal to create electricity. We do not yet have viable, cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels.

Nuclear plant building was stopped after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. Eight Presidents from Richard Nixon to Obama have tried to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create alternative sources of fuel, including battery driven cars, bio-mass fuels, wind and solar.

We are a long way from a fossil fuel free world and the end of war too.

RL

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Guest Ken Mantlo

I just did the math based on Jeffs numbers.  Basically, he is paying a little more then 1/2 the cost for renting the equipment for 15 years as he would if he bought it, minus the rebates (I have a friend that installed a solar system and after the state, fed and city rebates it cost him $17,000). Jeff's cost =$9,900.  The difference being that my friend owns the equipment and Jeff will not (nor can he at that price).

Now with that being said, Jeff will be saving $18,900 on his electric bill over 15 years.

  $210 current electric bill

- $50  estimated electric bill after solar panels

  $160  monthly savings X 12 months X 15 years = $28,800 - $9,900 solar rental = $18,900

Now as far as improving the property value, I have doubt.  If he owned the equipment I would say yes because the gear is free of debt.  With a lease, the new owner of the house, if he is to keep the system, is saddled with an additional monthly payment.  Also, this system lease is not unique or exclusive,  meaning it is a deal that the new owner can go out and obtain himself at the same price from SolarCity.

You then have to wonder if you are to sell the house before the end of 15 years, and the new owner doesn't want the solar system, how do you break the lease?  My guess is that that you are still liable for the remainder of the monies owed on the contract.

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Ken, Just a couple of thoughts about your calculations. Over the 15 year lease Jeff's saving will be significantly more than you calculated based on the unenviable rising cost of electricity.  Unless they perfect fusion by then.  Also in comparison to your friends costs who bought his system outright, Jeff will not have to pay for any maintenance costs since it is covered by the lease. Andy

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Guest Ken Mantlo

Ken, Just a couple of thoughts about your calculations. Over the 15 year lease Jeff's saving will be significantly more than you calculated based on the unenviable rising cost of electricity.  Unless they perfect fusion by then.  Also in comparison to your friends costs who bought his system outright, Jeff will not have to pay for any maintenance costs since it is covered by the lease. Andy

If this solar thing catches on it's just as easy to say that the price of electricity will go down.  Who has a crystal ball?

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If this solar thing catches on it's just as easy to say that the price of electricity will go down.  Who has a crystal ball?

  As the technology evolves and becomes cheaper solar will in my opinion become very popular, at least until fusion is perfected into a steady state.  I am not an economist but I think the more homes that have solar will actually increase the price of electricity to maintain the revenues of the central power plants. 

Andy

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If this solar thing catches on it's just as easy to say that the price of electricity will go down.  Who has a crystal ball?

It doesn't matter.  The main point is to reduce burning oil (something tells me solar will be getting more popular on the Gulf Coast just about now).  Though usually, utilities encourage conservation and then when usage goes down they petition the public utility commissions for rate increases to make up for the reduced usage.

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Jeff!!  I did this last year.. Went with Solar City, and had a 3.6 kW system put in with 21 panels on the roof.  Meter runs backwards all day, and the power bill went from 300/mo to .95/mo.  Yes.. I said, .95 cents a month!!

I took almost a year to put in, due to all the steps you have to go though.. But now it's humming along just fine!

-Richard

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Billy,

Going Solar is great - but I don't think it reduces the use of gasoline, since 50% of the power plants are coal powered.

If a cheaper alternative to oil can be developed and the entire world embraces it, especially China and India, then that hoped for reduction will happen.

I don't think the oil spill in the Gulf will bring an up tick in solar energy installations, but it will bring higher prices at the pump.

RL

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