Summer of 2010 I heard Kirk talk about Solar Power at the Yelm Home Show. Kirk’s main thread through out his presentation was to educate us on how it works and why solar was a smart choice. Kirk was NEVER a sales man. He answered all questions clearly. His main reason for coming to the home show as to educate our community.
The summer of 2011 we installed our solar panels. This summer 2012 our power bill was $0.00 from May to September we have not received Octs bill yet. Plus Puget Power sent us our first anual check for power we produced and sent back into the power grid.
When you install solar on your house or business, you use the power, or you share it with your neighbors. When you use the power your system produces, that is saving you money. If it is a beautiful, sunny day and you aren’t using all the power your system is producing, the power you don’t use goes back to the grid and your neighbors, spinning your meter of power you bought backwards. This is called Net Metering. So, you either save money by not having to buy it in the first place, or you are reimbursed for the power you had to buy. This is all in addition to getting paid for everything you produce. However, you can’t take your monthly power bill below $0.00.
Most power companies pay grid tied system owners for the power they produce, before they even use it. That is in addition to net metering! Puget Sound Energy, for example, pay grid tied solar electric systems a minimum of 15¢ per kWh for everything produced, and this goes up when panels and/or inverters are manufactured in Washington State. Puget Sound Energy will pay up to $5,000 a year for electricity a solar system produces.
When you have a solar electric system installed, you are exempt from sales tax in Washington State. Unfortunately, this is not the case for hot water systems. Yet both hot water and electric systems make you eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of up to 30% of the cost of your installed system. Don’t owe enough for it to be worth your while? Not a problem, you can take a few years to earn it back.
Worried that you won’t stay in your solar home long enough to get your money back? Selling the house will make up the difference. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for every $1 reduced in annual utility bills by solar, your home value rises by $20. Not to mention, homes with solar sell faster, especially in an economic downturn, because buyers want to save money too!
Most power in the U.S. comes from Coal. Coal is energy intensive to mine, and the process damages local ecosystems, ripping up the ground and distorting habitat and releasing toxic chemicals. When coal is burned it releases Carbon Dioxide, a major green house gas. When you go solar, you are reducing the need for this destruction and the release of these gases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy each kilowatt of solar electricity offsets up to:
When solar systems reduce green house gases, they also reduce environmental causes of illness, especially asthma. Nitrogen oxide causes a lower resistance to pneumonia and influenza, and at high concentrations causes lung damage. Concentrations as low as 0.1 parts per million irritates and decreases the lung function of asthmatics. In addition, Sulfur oxides exposure has been linked to wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Long term exposure to sulfur dioxide include respiratory illness, including asthma, and aggravates existing cardiovascular disease. Solar power reduces these risks.
Today the United States is dependent on other countries for our main energy source, oil. This is hurting both our economy and our national security. Funds go overseas to countries that our nation views as threats. As we saw during the oil embargo of the 1970s, when these nations cut off our supply of oil, our economy suffered. When we rely on other nations we make our country vulnerable.
At the same time, our current electricity set up in the United States is what is called a centralized grid. This means that power is produced at a central location, a plant, a dam, etc. and the power is sent to the outlying homes and businesses. This means if one power plant fails, many people, hospitals, street lights, are shut down. By installing solar on your home or business, you are decentralizing the grid. Making it less vulnerable to attack or failure.