Everyone has dreams and fantasies. Some dream of accumulating great wealth, others dream of finding the perfect mate, and others dream of owning solar panels. I fall into the later category. Although, this dream of owning solar seems to pale in comparison to wealth, fame, and love, it hurt every time I saw solar panels on a building. Solar was just too damn expensive, but that reality did not kill the yearning for something that was unobtainable. It kind of felt like loving someone who could not love you back. Only Ed Beagley could understand this feeling.
Are you reaching for the cloth hanky, about now?
See, solar in New Jersey has been very expensive with long paybacks. So, how could I convince my husband that we should install solar given this economy? But a green girl has to dream.
Months ago, I signed up as a possible participant in solar buying program for my area via One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) and wrote about the program. Basically, think of solar panels being sold by Costco or BJs. Economy of scale, baby.
At the time, most of 1BOG solar groups were out west. The story of my life. Everything is always out west.
But a green girl can still dream…
And one day, she hoped her solar fairy godmother would grant one of her wishes…
So, she try to be a very good green girl and did whatever her ugly stepmother and step-sisters told her to do. (Oops, wrong story.)
Until one day…
I got that fateful call…
Yep, you guess it. Solar for this green girl.
“Shut-up,” is what I wanted to say to Brad of 1BOG when he told me that 1BOG solar was coming to North Jersey. I felt like Anne Hathaway of the Princess Dairies when she learned that she was a princess. Stunned. Just for the record, I did not win the lottery, obtain an inheritance, or rob a bank. And no, Ed B. did not give me loan because he could feel my pain.
If you want to see if you are in the North Jersey coverage area, see here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the map.
But, don’t stop reading just because you don’t live in New Jersey. (This could be you in a couple of months! Think Ed McMahon. So make sure you check out 1BOG’s upcoming city launches. There are quite a lot of cities in the mix.)
Back to Brad, my fairy god-father. I am not sure if Brad expected someone to be this excited. I was literally jumping up and down. Can’t you just see Glenda, the good witch smiling and waving her wand over me? “You always knew how to go home…” (or something like that.)
So, what is the deal? Ed B., can you say $5.45 a watt versus the traditional $8 a watt that I had been quoted forever. A thirty percent savings. The Company goes through a bidding process with various solar companies and vets out the companies to make sure that us consumers will be purchasing a good product from a reliable source. See here for a detailed explanation of how the Company picks a solar company for a particular area.
Brad immediately looked at my roof through Google maps and determined that I would be a good candidate. We talked about the cost as well as the state rebates, federal credit, and the New Jersey solar RECs that would lower the long term cost of the system. We also spoke about options to install on my roof versus the increased cost of a ground mount system. After a lengthy conversation, he then referred my name to The Solar Center in Rockaway, New Jersey.
Brad was a true fairy god-father and virtually held my hand the whole time during our conversation. At the end of the conversation, he gave me a brownie and a glass of milk and told me to have sweet solar dreams…
Nah, just kidding.
He assured me if I had more questions or needed more hand holding, I could call or email him. The Company receives a referral fee for each customer who buys solar through the program. (He even called again tonight to check up on my progress.)
Here is the most important part: To be eligible for this discount, you must sign up with 1Bog no later than March 25, 2010 and the your house must be evaluated by The Solar Center by April 25, 2010. If you don’t make either dates, sign up anyway, since there may be a second round of solar installations.
On Friday, Daniel from The Solar Center came and checked if my roof was shaded and measured the area of my roof for the proposed installation. See how he smiling? Why? My roof was made for solar.
Then we talked numbers, financing, and rebates. Listed below would be the typical cost of a 10 kilowatt system under the 1BOG program:
The Base Price/Watt $ 5 .45 for 10,000 kilowatts: $ 54,500.00
Less NJCEP Rebate* $ 1 .75 10,000 -($17,500.00)
Out of Pocket Price Paid by Customer $ 37,000.00
Federal Investment Tax Credit 30% x net price -$11,100.00
Year 1 Net Investment $ 2 5,900.00
Note, you will need to pay the $37,000 up front and perhaps wait a year for the tax credit. The Company has financing available through a local bank at 8 % interest. Shop around to see what a home equity loan would cost you.
To see the payback without including the interest financing:
First Year Electric Savings $ 0 .19 /kWh $ 2,032.00
(they are averaging the kilowatt price during the year)
First Year SREC Income $ 6 00 /SREC=$ 6,416.00
First Year Electric Savings and SREC Income= $ 8 ,448
1BOG has a wonderful explanation of what are SRECs:
“In New Jersey, SRECs are Solar Renewable Energy Credits, issued by New Jersey each year at the rate of one for every 1000kWh generated. You can then sell in the credits through GATS or through The Solar Center, who serves as an aggregator for their customer’s SRECs.
Right now, on an average sized solar system (7kW) in New Jersey, you can sell one year’s worth of SRECs for about $4500. The market value for an SREC is expected to decrease each year, but the ceilings only decrease by 3% or so per year. It sounds too good to be true, but it does make right now truly the best time to get solar in New Jersey.”
Can you sell your own SREC or will someone handle this for you? Daniel told me I could sell my own SRECs but his Company will sell them for a small fee. At the moment, SRECs are selling for $660. See here for an SREC auction site. Daniel explained that they use $600 as a conservative figure based upon the weighted average of the SREC program. The weighted average includes long term SREC contracts that are discounted which lowers the weighted average.
Without financing, The Solar Company estimates the payback to be 3.1 years. Financing adds about a year onto the process. Additional costs can include a ground mount versus installing the panels on your roof and snow guards. (See here about other possible cost due to the type of roof you own and other variables.) In our case, the panels would be over an outside door. Daniel suggested snow guards to protect people going in and out of the door from being plummeted with snow that slides off the panels. (That would most likely be me since I am probably the only one who gets pooped on by birds at Busch Gardens in Tampa.)
In addition, the Company offers two different solar panels: Suntech STP-200 and SunPower 215. The SunPower panel is $1.25 more a watt, but according to the Company produces more electricity in the morning and late afternoon than the Suntech. In addition, “Sunny Boy” SMA inverters will be installed. Fronius inverters are also available.
Further note, in order to obtain the $1.75 per watt NJ rebate, your must have a home energy audit by the state. The cost is $125.00.
After all the numbers were crunched, financing calculated, snow guards added in, my husband and I decided that solar would be good investment with the SREC and reduced energy bill offsetting the mortgage payment. So, right now Houston, we are ready to launch.
Want to know what solar will cost you? Enter your address here, and the estimator will walk you through the steps.
So, what are you waiting for? Use this handy email link to tell all your friends in Northern Jersey to go solar.
Remember, if you don’t live in New Jersey, check out where other 1BOG’s upcoming communities are located. My belief is the more people sign up in a community, the more incentive 1BOG will have to look for a competitive solar program in your area.
So, go solar! May you all have sweet solar dreams.
Solar Photos courtesy of The Solar Center.
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