Greening Our Homes – Solar

We were asked to write something about our recent addition of solar panels to our house.  We started looking last winter and got quotes and visits from 3 companies and finally made our decision.  One of the things we were asked to consider was whether we might get an electric car in the next 5 years, and if so, we might want to build in additional capacity to cover the extra use of electricity for charging it.  We decided to build in that capacity, as it would probably cost more to add it later.  In addition, there is currently a substantial tax credit for moving to solar or other renewable energy sources.  That might disappear later as well. 

Once we made our decision, the company gave us an approximate installation date (weather conditions could affect the date, which we understood).  The company would arrange all the paperwork, town permits, setting up dates of meter installation with Eversource, inspection dates with building inspector and Eversource inspector, etc.  We only had to arrange to have some trees removed that would shade our house. 

Everything went smoothly—the tree removal, the solar panel installation, the meter installation, and the hook-up to the grid.  We did have one minor glitch with the metering but that was resolved quickly.  We started producing solar energy in mid-April and can monitor the system on our phones.  We can check at any time to see that all the panels are working properly, how much electricity we are importing (during dark hours) and how much we are producing.  We can also see how much we use and how much excess we are exporting back into the grid.  On a sunny day right now, we are able to export half to three fourths of our production.  This goes into the grid and currently is reducing our electric bill to zero.  We build up credits with the power company so that on rainy days or when the daylight gets much shorter, we will need to import more, but should have enough credit to keep our bills very low or at zero. 

In addition to this, the solar company advised us that we could sell energy credits (SREC) to companies that are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by buying these credits.  They set us up with a company that handles this, and this payment, though relatively small, will come through to us quarterly.  They will pay us for each MWh produced.  Since mid-April, we have produced about 1.9MWh (Megawatt Hours) and used only 777KWh (Kilowatt hours). 

The initial costs are high but should pay themselves off in 10 years or less. 

Craig & Chris Monroe

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