Here’s what to know if you’re considering solar power for your home or business – MICRO SOLAR ENERGY
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Here’s what to know if you’re considering solar power for your home or business

Here’s what to know if you’re considering solar power for your home or business


Here’s a brief primer on solar power.

The cost of rooftop solar for homeowners and small businesses has fallen by more than half in the past decade.

  • Ten years ago the cost was roughly $8 a watt.
  • Now the cost is roughly $3.50 a watt.

Rooftop solar is a long-term investment given the high upfront cost.

  • A system that can generate six kilowatts, for example, costs about $21,000.

But federal and state tax credits help offset the cost.

  • A federal tax credit of 30% — $6,300 for a system costing $21,000 — reduces the upfront cost.
  • A rebate from the state Focus on Energy fund further reduces the cost. The rebate is roughly 12% of the cost after the federal tax credit, up to $2,000 for homeowners and $4,000 for businesses.
  • The tax credits reduce the upfront cost of a six-kilowatt system to about $13,000.

Financing options are available.

  • Loans to cover the upfront costs of a solar system are available through the Clean Energy Credit Union and other lenders.
  • Companies that install solar panels also offer financing, but be sure to read the fine print.

Homeowners and businesses should install systems that meet their needs.

  • Utilities pay wholesale rates when a homeowner or business generates more power than it uses in a given month.
  • Wholesale rates are much lower than the retail rate that homeowners and businesses pay for electricity.
  • For this reason, the return on selling excess power to a utility doesn’t justify the cost of buying additional solar panels.

Homeowners and small businesses get a credit for the electricity they generate during the day that offsets the electricity they use at night or on cloudy days.

  • The excess power generated during the day offsets the electricity used when solar panels are not generating electricity or not operating at their peak capacity, such as on cloudy days.
  • Homeowners and small business in most cases still will need to buy electricity from a utility during some months of the year, such as cloudy winter months.

We Energies is seeking approval from state regulators for a surcharge on residential and small business customers with solar power.

  • We Energies contends that customers with solar panels don’t pay their share of the cost of the transmission and distribution system, shifting costs to other systems.
  • The proposed surcharge is $3.53 for each kilowatt of solar generating capacity.
  • That would work out to $21.18 a month, or about $254 a year, if approved by state regulators, for a homeowner or small business with a six-kilowatt system.