Monday, August 26, 2013

Solar in Vermont, Just Makes Cents!

Interest in Solar Power is as varied as the people who are interested in it.
  • It is a good financial investment
  • It is good for the environment
  • It is like pre-buying electricity
  • It reduces your carbon footprint
Installing a photovoltaic system is like pre-buying electricity. You pay up front to have the system installed then enjoy the benefits of not purchasing the energy, similar to pre-buying heating oil, wood pellets, or propane. The big difference is you are pre-buying for 20 or 30 years not just one heating season.

The savings you can see in a Solar PV system depend on many things, like the slope of your roof, shade created by trees etc. For our system, a roof mount wasn't possible because of our proximity to our neighbor's land on the south side and also the number of trees on that property line. We therefore, installed a yard mounted system.

Can you really save money?
Some saving scenarios were created by The Green Energy Times and are printed in their August 15, 2013 Issue 21. The Green Energy Times is a FREE newspaper available at various locations in and around the Upper Valley.

One of their scenarios:
If utility rates continue to increase as the same rate as they have over the last 20 years, the average rate for electricity in Vermont over the next 30 years will be 25.4 cents/kWh.

For 4.8 kW PV system on a 45ยบ roof facing true south with no shade assuming  a 30-year system life:
Paid entirely out of pocket
  • Without taking advantage of any incentives-9.9 cents/kWh
  • With Vermont incentive but no federal tax credit-8.4 cents/kWh
  • With both Vermont incentive and Federal tax credit-5.5 cents/kWH
The incentives in New Hampshire are even better than Vermont so knock off another 1 or 2 cents for each scenario.

For us the savings may not be as great because our system is a yard not roof mount (the initial investment was more because of site prep-work), but I'm sure it will be substantial.

Good Investment-YES
A 4.8 kW system in Vermont (roof mounted) after state and federal incentives costs about $8340. The value of the electricity generated over the system's 30 year life could amount to as much as $36,000, or a net gain close to $28,000. If you took $8340 and invested in a bond to see a return of up to $28,000 the interest rate would need to be 11.13%, good luck finding that kind of rate.

Energize Vermont-a great place to get your questions answered.
From their website: The mission of ENERGIZE VERMONT is to educate and advocate for establishing renewable energy solutions that are in harmony with the irreplaceable character of Vermont, and that contribute to the well-being of all her people.
We achieve our mission by researching, collecting, and analyzing information from all sources; and disseminating it to the public, media, community leaders, legislators, and regulators for the purpose of ensuring informed decisions for long term stewardship of our communities.- See more at: http://energizevermont.org/about/#sthash.o6EWps1m.dpuf

Our PV and Solar Hot Water Systems
Dave Bonta at USA Solar Store arranged for our solar installations.
From start to Power Up...
 The holes are dug for the mounts.

Net Zero did the the PV installation
 The mounts are cemented in.

 The trench to the house is dug and the tubes are laid.

The solar hot water tank is installed.
The hot water collector array frame is built and mounted

Lee adjusts the solar PV panel.

Even on a cloudy day the PV is generating electricity.
The Solar Hot Water is ready to go.

We are now generating electricity and have pretty much stopped heating our hot water with oil.

More images from our Solar Adventure: Photos by Nanci SmugMug
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