Going solar

Just got an e-mail from my electric company. They’re offering to do a no-cost consultation about how I can get solar grids installed on my house, and use solar power. They’ll give me 40% off if I act fast.

Anybody have any experience with this? Any recommendations?

is your neighborhood an area known for solar? some areas just get more sun and that’s what makes it worth it.

if consultation is free, then sure why not. set it up and do your homework before they come over

I would certainly get the consultation since it’s free. I’d shop around after that though. Your electric company is likely trying to meet some govt. regulation on renewable energy generation.


Utility companies in many states are incented/required to execute efficiency and/or distributed generation projects in order to lower their production load.

The federal government offers a 30% tax credit on the full installation cost of solar projects, and some utilities will offer added incentives.

Depending upon cost of energy in your state, the projects can cash flow remarkably well.

My concern with having your electric company do it is that they will likely keep the Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs, for themselves. If you get through someone else, upfront cost will likely be higher, but you own the REC’s and can trade them for $$$$$. The electric company has to buy your surplus energy regardless of who installs (meter goes backward when you are producing more than you’re using).

Greenie, first and foremost, if your roof isn’t brand new, it won’t be viable. You want the panels to stay on your roof for at least 20 years. As far as the 40% off you would be getting, that’s a solar rebate they will be “paying you” for your RECs that you would otherwise be entitled to. They will not be losing money on this. If you do have a brand new roof, things you need to consider/ask them about during the consultation:

  1. Ask them about a net-metering rate - the rate at which you would be selling back to them any excess power generated by your solar panels. (do you get a flat average rate regardless the time of year, do you get spot prices, day-ahead prices, on/off peak prices, etc…)

  2. If you want to live completely off-grid, ask about battery prices - these are very expensive and last about 10’ish years. However, if you do live off-grid, you will likely not receive the 40% off “rebate” and have to pay full price for everything. But, you’d also receive your entitled RECs.

  3. If you don’t have a big enough section of your roof facing the south, angled correctly, it won’t be worth it

  4. visit this website: http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/pvwatts.php - you can find your house on a map, and draw the system on a map and it will calculate some of the economics behind it for you.

  5. annualize your power bills, figure out a payback period… it’s going to be a lot longer than you expect.

Who’s your utility? SPS or Entergy?

^Thanks for the info.

Just based on the e-mail, it looks like I would be leasing the solar equipment. Basically, they install it, then I pay them some set amount per month. Whatever solar power I get would basically offset my electricity usage. And it also looks like I get to keep any “excess” energy.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like a great deal. We just installed a 20-SEER air conditioner, and our electric bills have plummeted since. If we still had the 20-year-old unit, then it might make more sense.


Since we had a hailstorm and I may have to replace the roof, it may make sense to do this. Any thoughts?

Can you do an NPV analysis? Whats the total cost of installation - tax incentives? What will be your positive cashflow going forward after installation?

^Nerdiest response ever.

hahaha. greenie did you like going solar? how was the lease process? did it save you on costs? do people think ur a lot coooler? do you feel like you saved mother earth?

I’m sorry, unless you are able to install those Solar City integrated shingles that look like slate or whatever, traditional solar panels are straight-up fugly. As a buyer, I would immediately rule out buying a house that already had traditional solar panels installed. Aesthetically horrendous.

According to Amigo Energy, who apparently operates in your neck of the 48 contiguous, Millennials are more eco-conscious than previous generations; and according to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials account for ~37% of recent home purchases.

Going solar may increase your home’s current market value, or just increase its marketability. Either way, I would think it’s a net positive for you. Even if you plan to stay in your current house longer than the lifespan of a new roof, we all know how fragile long-term plans can be.

A simple “No, i’m planning on sitting on this idea for another 5 years” would have been enough…

When you sell the house, I think the buyer will need to take over your solar lease payments. You should research this arrangement before deciding on financing types. I hear that generally, marketing uses aggressive energy cost growth projections, so it is worth running the numbers yourself.

With respect to solar panels themselves - in places like California, they are positive to home value perception. In Texas, who knows. In the North East, they will probably be regarded as a liability, since there are seasons with snow and no one wants to deal with another complicated thing in their house.

^ there was a Bloomberg article about that, the solar deal sounded terrible, not as bad as NAFTA or TPP but really bad.

also, wouldn’t you rather use electricity generated with clean burning natural gas #imwithbigoil

I’m… so… tired… of… winning…

No you’re not! We have to win more!