Does Solar Work Up Here?
YES! The Pacific Northwest continues to add solar energy systems to its energy mix. Thanks to our long summer days and utility net metering programs, we are able to build credits in the summer months and work off of them in the shoulder months. The cool summer weather also allows solar panels to operate more efficiently, resulting in more power than one would receive in hotter climates. Solar energy systems also work on cloudy days, collecting light that has been scattered through the clouds and turning it in to energy. While we won’t see as much production on an annual basis as we would in the southern deserts, we still generate enough to make solar a financially viable solution. In fact, our solar resource is very similar to that of Germany’s, which happens to be the world leader in installed solar energy systems.
Will My Meter Really Spin Backwards?
YES! Any time your PV system is producing more power than your home is using, your electrical service meter will physically spin backwards. This is what’s called “net metering”, which allows us to sell power back to the utility at retail rates. This does not apply to “off-grid” systems since they are not hooked up to a utility.
What Incentives Are in Place for Solar Energy Systems?
Homeowner’s can take advantage of a variety of federal, state, and local incentives to help make solar more affordable. Here is a breakdown of the most current federal and state incentives. Please contact us to find out if any additional incentives exist in your local area.
Federal – Applicable to Solar Electric (PV) and Solar Hot Water (SHW) Systems:
- Homeowner’s will receive a Residential Income Tax Credit of 30% of the total installed system cost. This incentive is available until 2016 and can be “carried over” each year until it is completely used up, or until 2016, whichever comes first.
- Businesses can take advantage of either a Renewable Energy Grant or a Tax Credit, each of 30% of the total installed system cost. Applications must be submitted by 10/1/2011 and are only applicable to commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Payment of the grant will be made within 60 days of the grant application date or the date the system is placed in service, whichever is later.
Washington State – Applicable to Solar Electric (PV) Systems Only:
- There is no sales tax on any of the equipment or labor associated with solar electric systems.
- In addition to offsetting CO2 emissions from traditional power and lowering your utility bills, Washington State will pay you $0.15 for every kWh that your system produces. Additionally, if you are using Silicon Energy (Washington-made) solar panels, the production incentive jumps to $0.36/kWh. Throw in an OutBack (made in Washington) inverter and the incentive maxes out at $0.54/kWh!
- You can also sell Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs) during the lifetime of your system.
What is a Renewable Energy Certificate or REC?
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Carbon Credits, Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.
What does this mean for your installation? It means that you can sell the “green attributes” of the power you’re producing with your PV system to someone else. If you’ve heard of companies like Whole Foods or New Belgium Brewing going “100% Wind Powered,” they haven’t installed lots of turbines, they’ve bought RECs to offset their usage. By selling your RECs on the open market you’re allowing other companies to do the same with solar power. Locally, RECs are collected or aggregated by the NW Solar Cooperative. Click on their name to find out more about their program.
How Long Does a Solar Energy System Last?
The lifetime of a solar energy system varies depending on the technology and the climate the equipment is placed in. Thanks to our mild weather, we should see the lives extended somewhat. In general, solar electric panels should produce power for 30-50 years. Most manufacturers warranty the power output for 25 years, but most people agree that they will continue producing well beyond that point. For solar hot water, collectors traditionally have ten year warranties and are expected to last about 15-20 years. In most cases, the balance of system (BOS) components will need to be replaced at some point during the life of the system. This includes equipment such as pumps, automatic valves, inverters, and some storage tanks. A&R Solar offers an industry-leading 5-year craftsmanship warranty on all of its solar installations.
How Much Maintenance is Required?
Solar energy systems require very little maintenance, and will continue to operate effectively even with no maintenance. If you would like to see your system consistently operate at its maximum potential, the following can be performed on an on-going basis:
- Hose off panels and collectors approximately 1-2 times per year. This can significantly increase performance if large amounts of pollen, dirt, or debris has accumulated.
- Regularly monitor your system’s production, looking for any significant changes in output.
- It can be a good idea to completely drain and refill your solar hot water system with new antifreeze solution every five years. A&R Solar offers flat fee service calls to customers in our service territory.
How do I get started?
Give us a call. We’ll ask you some questions about your home or business, and even give you a preliminary site analysis over the phone using satellite imagery. We can walk you through how solar might help you achieve your goals, and help you set a budget.
Once we’ve gathered some of this basic information we schedule a time to come out to look at your site to measure your solar resource, look at existing site conditions, and let you know more about how our company operates. After that we’ll be able to design a system that specifically meets your needs. So go ahead and give us a call! 509-839-3900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Do You Have a Question?
Evergreen Solar Energy strives to improve our offerings. You can help us do this by asking questions not currently found on our website. To do so, please email us, email@example.com. We would greatly appreciate it!
Does Solar Add Value to My Home?
YES! Several studies have shown that homes with solar sell faster and for more money than comparable homes without solar. A recent study out of California concluded that the premium for which solar-homes sell for is about the same as what the homeowner paid for the system in the first place. This means that, unlike upgrading your kitchen or remodeling your bathroom, the costs of adding a solar energy system is preserved over the years by permanently increasing your home’s value. More details about these findings can be found at http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/04/21/bright-spot-for-solar/.