The Solar equation for me

So this morning I was talking to a colleague who is interested in solar, and I reran my numbers on the cost/benefit of solar.

Cost of the system $19993.08 (Let’s round to $20k for the sake of simplicity.)

30% federal tax credit shaves that to $14k.

10 year loan on 14k at 2.99% interest is about $135.

We average about $90ish electric monthly.  Assuming electric rates rise at around 5% a year, we’ll be paying around $154 for the same electric usage in 10 years.

In short, it means that the cost of the system pays for itself in about 8 years.  This doesn’t account for one other factor, Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC).  There is a program where you get one credit per year for every 1000kW you generate.  My system should generate 7 SRECs per year.  utilities buy SRECs to meet renewable energy minumums, and there is a commodity trading market for SRECs.  Unfortunately here in Ohio, we can only sell our SRECs on the Ohio or Pennsylvania markets, where prices for SRECs are very low. ($6 and $10, respectively.)  By contrast, Massachusetts and New Jersey SRECs sell for $200 or more.  If we sell in the PA market, that’s $70 a year, so over 10 years $700, or 5% of the cost of the system.

The Solar Experience

So we signed up for solar a few months ago, and it finally got installed last week.  (Just under the wire for the 2016 solar tax credit.)

We got a couple of bids, and ended up choosing YellowLite, based out of Cleveland.  The rep I worked with was not a very good salesperson, which was perfect, because Ezequiel is very much a technical guy that happens to do both sales and tech.  When I say he wasn’t a good salesperson, I say it from the perspective that I hate sales people, and Ezequiel was more concerned with answering my questions and figuring out what the best possible system would be for us.  (It didn’t hurt that he proposed a system that was the same size as his competitors, but with American-made panels AND  at a lower overall cost.)  Needless to say, his approach spoke to me, and he spent about an hour on the roof, measuring,calculating, etc.  The overall price didn’t hurt either.  (20k, before the 30% federal tax credit.)

The system is 21 285 watt Mono Solarworld panels, just about 6kW in generating capacity, with a SolarEdge inverter.  The installation took a little longer than expected, and required a little troubleshooting, but wasn’t really significant in terms of inconveniencing us.

Today marks the beginning of generation.  The system generated 19.86kW, and the outside electric meter rolled back from 779 to 768.