In the last few months, we have received many questions about solar power, such as:
• Will it reduce my power bill?
• Is solar a less-expensive alternative?
• What questions should I ask solar salespeople?
YEC began researching renewable-energy alternatives about 15 years ago, and we’ve been offering Green Power to our members since 2004. Since then, solar energy alternatives have become available and have generated a lot of consumer interest. And, issues surrounding solar energy alternatives have been addressed by the S.C. General Assembly. There are now two publications with which anyone considering solar should become familiar. The first is SC Act 236, the law governing renewable energy in S.C. The second is the Office of Regulatory Staff’s Cost Shifting Analysis on what renewable energy will cost S.C. citizens by 2021.
Information is key to any large investment. I would encourage all of our members interested in renewable energy to research the pros and cons and do what best fits each individual.
In this column, I am going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve heard. If I don’t cover it here, don’t hesitate to call. We will do our best to get you straight answers.
Solar FAQs answered
Before even considering investing in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, improve your home’s energy efficiency. This will reduce the size of any system you might install and improve your investment. Otherwise, the cost benefits may be disappointing.
Smaller solar PV systems range in size from about 2,000 watts—or 2 kilowatts (kW)—up to around 13kW. They cost $4,250 to $5,000 per kW. A 2kW system might save a consumer $31 a month. This is a lot of money for a small reduction in your monthly power bill.
If you aren’t sure it’s worth it, visit MySCSolar.com, a website developed by YEC and other S.C. co-ops to help our members. You can plug in your numbers—the generating capacity of a solar PV system, its up-front costs, etc.—to calculate your return on investment. Of course, please contact us anytime if you need assistance.
Questions to ask about solar
We recommend YEC members ask the following questions related to rooftop solar PV systems:
- How long does the warranty last? When will you have to assume repair or replacement costs?
- How old is my roof? You need a good roof on which to install a solar PV system. If you have to replace your roof, what will that cost? And, if there’s a storm, will you have to replace the roof and the solar panels?
- Will solar panels increase my insurance costs? Sometimes, features you might think add value—say, an in-ground pool—can be liabilities. Check with your insurance company.
- Will renewable-energy tax credits benefit me? Check with your accountant. But one thing’s certain: You will not get a check from the government for installing solar. Tax credits don’t work that way.
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