Going solar is a big topic these days
We’re all told that going solar saves money. Its good for the environment. We want to save money on something we use every day. After all, other than the mortgage, your power bill is usually the second biggest bill you pay every month.
This is a rather enlightening subject and rather than drone on and on, I’m going to break this up into several parts. So welcome to Part 1 – what we learned when trying to go solar.
Investigating Adding Solar Panels
We live in the southwest, and we get more year round sunshine than many parts of the country. It would appear that where we live, it would make perfect sense to have solar panels mounted on the roof. Sometimes you may place in your yard instead. Plus you’d be doing good things for the environment and saving money. At least, that’s what they tell you.
We thought it made perfect sense and was something we should do, so we started to do our homework. Here in Nevada, we had a good program. Had is the operative word.
In Nevada, you were eligible for federal energy credits, state energy credits and net metering. Net metering meant if you pay 12 cents a kilowatt for energy you use, and you generate 12 cents a kilowatt your solar panels generate, you get full credit for that. So use 12 cents, earn 12 cents. This sounded great.
Know Your Power Usage
We began calling solar installation companies. After two phone calls, we discovered we needed a one year history of power bills at our residence to determine the right size system for our house. So having only lived in our house for two months, we had to wait.
Our power company has a formula to determine the largest size system they’ll allow you to install. Yes, they actually tell you how big a system you can install. They do that to determine how much energy they will allow you to sell back to them to get credit on your bill each month.
So we can’t just install the size system we want? No. We can only install the size system our power company will let us install? What?????
Yes that’s right. You believe you can install a solar panel system that will replace our electric bill completely, but the power company says no you can’t. The typical system generates about 70% of your power use determined by the square footage of your house.
So unless you’re paying cash for the system, and you intend to go totally off grid, you can’t install a 100% system. Being off grid means you will not buy or sell the power your system makes back to your electric company. You would need panels, a power inverter, and a battery system to store the energy you make until you use it.
Not fair, but that’s the rules.
What We Learned
Installing solar sounds like a great idea but you have to understand the fine print. Unless you’ve lived in your house for one year, you’re not eligible to install a solar panel system on your house.
The next episode will talk about what we learned about solar companies doing business in our state.