Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Solar Update - 1 Year of Green Electricity

It's been a little over a year since our solar array went online. So far, it's exceeded the estimates I made (using my spreadsheet in this post) for every month. Even in rainy, cloudy December, it beat estimates - just barely. This month, I don't think we'll reach estimates as it's been an unusually rainy, cloudy March. Right now we're about 140 kWH short with 9 days left - and today it's been non stop rain.

In spite of the rain (we do need it badly though), we've been extremely happy with the investment. In one year, we've used 8,821 kWH of electricity with 5,796 kWH being provided by the panels. Over 65.7% of our power was provided by the sun. Our electricity pricing is tiered based on usage, where tiers 1 (<370 kWH) and 2 (370-480 kWH) are the lowest priced and most reasonable. Before solar, we were consistently in tier 4 (730-1100 kWH). With solar, we hit tier 3 once - in that cloudy December. We hit tier 2 in January. Every other month, we've been in tier 1 usage. From an investment perspective, the electricity savings have returned approximately 8.3% 9.1% tax-free, relatively risk-free and effort free! Can't complain about that. Plus the tax credit for 30% of the net cost (cost less California rebate) is coming in real handy right now as I'm doing our taxes!

If you're thinking about going solar, I strongly encourage you to really look into it. Get a few providers to come out & give estimates. Use my spreadsheet linked above. Think about it as an investment - like buying a stock - but solar provides a higher dividend that's tax-free and essentially risk-free.

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