Are You a Good Candidate for a Solar Photovoltaic System?
If you can answer “yes” to the following 7 questions, installing a new solar system can be an excellent investment for both you and the environment:
1) Do you own your property?
2) Is your roof sunny and free from major shade between 10 AM and 4 PM?
3) Is your roof in good shape?
4) Do you have the means to invest at least $10,000 (cash or a home equity loan)?
5) Are your monthly electrical bills over $100?
6) Would you like to be protected from future energy price increases?
7) Besides being a good citizen, would you like to keep all the cost savings for yourself, rather than give it all to the friendly Solar Leasing Company?
What Are the Steps to Installing a PV Solar Electric System?
• We first need to determine your annual energy use. You can easily obtain this information from your utility provider by referencing the monthly bills you currently receive, calling your utility and asking for a monthly breakdown of your usage history, or by logging into your account on your utility’s website.
• PG&E customers may call 1-800-743-5000 to speak with an agent to get a “billing” history (press zero twice as soon as the phone connects to speak with an agent). Ask for your monthly kWh electric usage for the past 12-month period. Another way is to create an account at www.pge.com and download your yearly electrical usage.
• Please verify that your roof is in good shape. If it is not, the best time to re-roof is just before installing a PV solar system.
• Your solar installer should provide you with an analysis of the economic solar payback of your future solar electric system. This will help determine the financial viability of your solar system. If your electric bill is high, solar can be beneficial on financial terms alone.
• Willow Glen Electric will then design a PV system to net out the average annual electric bill (within your roof’s limits). Other options are to size a system that fits your budget and/or future goals. Shading will need to be avoided, as it has the biggest negative impact on a solar system’s performance.
• You will need to complete a California Solar Initiative online energy audit and provide us with a summary print out of recommendations. This must be submitted with the solar rebate paperwork.
• Willow Glen Electric will reserve your solar rebate as soon as you sign an installation agreement. The sooner this is done, the better, as rebates decrease over time.
• After your system is installed, the local building inspector must check the installation and sign off on the permit. Next, a net energy metering interconnection agreement must be signed between you and your utility. A new bi-directional meter will be installed. After the permit and rebate form is signed, the rebate final signed version of the solar rebate paperwork is submitted by Willow Glen Electric to secure your solar rebate.
Important Considerations for Solar Electric System Design
• We will perform a detailed shade analysis with a Solmetric SunEye tool to determine the sunniest place for the solar modules. The SunEye includes a digital camera and a dedicated on-board processor to compute shading and solar access percentages. With this tool we are able to determine how much sun your roof receives on any given day and time of the year, allowing us to estimate your eventual electrical production.
• Solar panels work optimally in the Bay Area when facing South or Southwest at a tilt of between 15-35 degrees up from horizontal. West facing arrays are good too if the pitch is less than 23 degrees (steeply pitched west facing roofs may have weak winter performance). With a time-of-use electric meter in PG&E territory, west facing arrays (at tilts less than 22 degrees) give about the same financial value as southern oriented PV systems.
• PV is relatively maintenance free, just view the inverter output to verify the system is working and clean the panels for maximum performance in the summer (hosing off panels is usually all that is needed; if panels are not cleaned, summer output may drop by 3% to 9%). Monitoring systems can be connected to your computer or the internet to automate system performance monitoring. Currently available grid tied PV inverters have built-in monitoring displays to show peak power output and cumulative kWh daily and lifetime energy generation.
Solar Investment Facts
• Incentives reduce the cost of investment dramatically
• 30% federal tax credit reduces your federal tax liability
• Solar investment returns are not taxable
• Home value is immediately increased
• Solar is a safe investment that does not fall in value with the stock market or during a recession.
• Cash investment in a solar installation to offset high electricity bills can provide annualized returns greater than 20% per year!