Catch the Sun When You Can

By | September 19, 2005

And this time I don’t mean Sun Microsystems. Our photovoltaic system was finally completed today! It was a long wait.

While browsing the news stands at our local book store in March, I came across a magazine called Home Power. It looked interesting and since I try to think about our environment once in a while, I took the magazine home.

We didn’t use that much electricity to begin with, about 5500 kWh/year. We were in the baseline price band for eight month of the year. Between April 2004 and March 2005, we paid about $ 645 on electricity. But California has currently some good incentives for home owners interested in renewable energy systems. There is a $ 2.80/installed Watt rebate and a 7.5% tax credit (after rebate).

I looked at a couple of different formulas and decided that a 2.5 kW PV system might make sense. I found an installer in Acro Electric out of Oakdale, CA. They agreed that a 2.7 kW system would make sense and would also fit on the roof.

In mid April Acro filed the application for the rebate with the California Energy Commission. And that’s when the long wait started:-(

In mid June I got a letter from the CEC that my rebate is approved. So I talked to Acro again and we schedule the installation for mid July. (They needed to get the panels etc.)

On July, the 15th, I got another letter from the CEC telling me that the rebate is denied this time because there is a form missing. This was two days before our scheduled installation date. I don’t know why the CEC first approved and then denied this application, but somehow this looks strange. Why did they need two month to count and check the application and then an extra month to realize that a form is missing? So I stopped the installation and Arco filed the application again.

At the beginning of September, we got the next letter from the CEC, again an approval notice.

The installation started last week, and today, the system was up and running. The three people from Arco did a very good job here;-)

Once we get the rebate and the tax credit, our system will cost us around $ 15,500. It will produce an estimated 3700 kWh/year. That should save us at least $ 440, or after the switch to time-of-use metering around $ 590 on the electricity bill. Those are todays prices with the next PG&E rate increase already decided. So our ROI will be somewhere between 2.8 and 3.7 percent from year one. Some people try to throw the increase in house value into the mix and that would boost the ROI a lot (like double), but we don’t currently think about selling our home;-) But even so, it’s better than some stocks and it will only get better over time.

And the green fact at last: Our system should help to avoid an estimated 6400 pounds of CO2 per year. That’s the equivalent of 20,000 miles with a 20 mpg car.

Sorry, today wasn’t Creator related.

2 thoughts on “Catch the Sun When You Can

  1. Anonymous

    The trick is that the utility price for electricity will go up by an average of x% each year (x was between 5 and 6 over the last years in California). But we will produce that electricity for the same price for the next 30 years.

    — Marco

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