About Solar Power
Harness the power of the sun!
The situation now is that your power is generated in large central plants and distributed over large interconnected networks of high voltage power lines. Sources of generation include coal, gas, nuclear, and hydro power.
The problem for you is that
- cost of fossil fuel goes up
- nuclear generation is expensive and dangerous
- hydro power development is limited
- power is lost in transmission over long distances
- the aging grid becomes increasingly vulnerable to breakdown
- all of these systems have negative environmental effects.
The implication is that your power costs are out of your control and your power comes from a grid that is vulnerable and unreliable. Further, your power consumption contributes to the kinds of environmental problems that are changing health and weather patterns, and the kinds of political problems that result from reliance on foreign and declining energy sources. In Washington we have enjoyed cheap hydro power. But the government intends to raise our costs to match markets in the rest of the country, which will more than double them. While our hydropower is renewable, it does have environmental consequences, and there is no opportunity to expand it.
Generating your own power at home using mature renewable energy technologies can provide relief from these problems.
Depending on the system you choose and where you live or work, you can reduce your utility costs by up to 90% or even eliminate your electric bill entirely. In fact, when your solar production exceeds your demand, your meter actually spins backwards - the utility company credits you for the power you produce! Not to mention, there are significant incentives and rebates for businesses and individuals who have solar electric systems installed. These are detailed elsewhere in this report.
Solar is the number one choice where power reliability is a concern. The first systems built and designed in the 1950's are not only still functional but produce significant power even now! When NASA needed trouble free, durable power for the space race, satellites, and for the exploration of other planets they turned to solar. A solar electric system is completely automatic; it has no moving parts, and is virtually maintenance free, and with a supplemental inverter and battery storage your system can keep your lights on in the event of an emergency or a blackout.
You can actually look forward to opening your electricity bill, with a solar electric system. Your meter will spin forward when electricity is used from the grid, and spin backwards, generating a credit, when the solar system creates more electricity than is used. In the summer when you are using less electricity and generating more, you build up a credit each month, so that in the winter when you will experience greater need and demand, along with lesser production you use those credits. At the end of the year you pay the "NET" difference between production and use.
Rebates and Incentives
Currently, some utilities offer subsidies that cover some of the cost of a system. Also, there is a 30% federal tax credit to help reduce the cost of the system even further. In addition, there are subsidies for your production, paying you beyond net metering for the power you generate. And, you are exempt from paying sales tax on your system and installation.
Increased Appraised value of Your Home
Based on a recent study by ICF consulting, (funded by HUD and the EPA and published in The Appraisal Journal (October 1998) energy saving measures such as solar can add up to $20 of home value for every $1 of yearly energy cost savings. What's better is that you are exempt from property tax on your increased value!
And finally, utilizing a solar system allows you to make a difference. Installing a solar electric system will preserve the earth's finite fossil-fuel resources and reduce air-pollution. A solar system does not release or produce any harmful by-products. It is 100% clean energy! A typical 3.3kw solar system produces up to 3,600 kWh per year which, in turn, prevents the need to burn 3.6 tons of coal to produce the same amount of electricity. 3.6 tons of coal burned releases 10,000 pounds of green house gases into our atmosphere.
Just think of how the 30+ year lifespan of your solar electric system can make a difference, the elimination of 100 tons of coal burned and 270,000 pounds of green house gases emitted into our atmosphere.