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The January 2012 storm caught us a little off-guard. I was in New Orleans on business and Deanne was stuck in our home in Kirkland. We could not get to our home in Olympia. The power was out according to Puget Sound Energy at our Olympia home for about 3 days….a little more or less after talking with the neighbors. The temperature was at or below freezing. Several years ago we went through a burst pipe situation that ended up with us gutting the entire house and starting over. We vowed to never deal with that again. We had our solar system installed with battery backup to solve for this scenario. We met with Bruce and Kirk and laid out our requirements. The house needed to run on solar/batteries for a minimum of 4 days without our intervention….or sunlight. Kirk and Bruce designed a system for us that has exceeded our expectations. The sunlight was enough to keep recharging the batteries…our house could have gone longer than 4 days without power. When the power is out our furnace runs, the refrigerator keeps humming, and our home remains secure. Secondarily, our system produces clean renewable energy and what we do not use we sell back to PSE.

We are very pleased with our solar power system and battery backup.

About Solar

Why go Solar?

Reduce Power Costs

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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.

Get Paid for Everything you Produce

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, pays grid tied solar electric systems 21¢ per kWh for everything produced when panels are manufactured in Washington State. Puget Sound Energy will pay up to $5,000 a year for electricity a solar system produces. 

Tax Breaks and Credits

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Solar 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.

Increase Home Value

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!

Protect the Environment

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:

  • 16 kilograms of nitrogen oxides
  • 9 kilograms of sulfur oxides
  • 2,300 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2)

Reduce Environmental Health Hazards

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.

Reduce Vulnerability

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.