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Assessing Your Solar Energy Options

Jessica PirroJuly 10, 20192230

Purchasing a solar-powered system with cash or a loan is the best option when you want to maximize on the advantages of solar energy by the solar panel installation, take advantage of the tax credits, and increase the market value of your house, and a solarize program is not available or is impractical.

The solar installer will connect the solar-powered system to the grid, and receive an interconnection permit from the utility. When the solar-powered system is generating more solar energy than homeowner with the solar panel installation requires, the customer will often be able to sell the excess solar energy back to the grid, and when the homeowner’s solar energy needs exceed the amount of solar energy that the solar panels are producing or even more than the solar-powered systems can produce themselves, the home can then draw more energy from the grid. You can learn more about grid-connected systems as well as other kinds of solar systems here.

When it comes to getting solar energy there are all kinds of options such as a solar panel installation, a solar lease, as well as a power purchase agreement, among other things.

Purchasing a Solar-Powered System

If you are interested in powering your energy needs with solar energy, purchasing a solar-powered system is a good option if one or more of the following applies to you; you want to purchase a solar-powered system so that you can put a solar panel installation on your property.

You are eligible for state or federal investment tax credits.

You are willing to be responsible for maintenance or repairs (keep in mind that most solar-powered systems offer warranties on the solar panels and solar power equipment, and many solar installers will offer operations and maintenance plans).

You want to alleviate your electricity costs with solar energy.

You wish to sell your unused solar energy produced by your solar panels back to your utility through a net-metering arrangement.

You want to increase your home’s value from a solar panel installation.

You have the upfront capital to purchase the solar-powered system or you are able to access capital through a lender (many banks, utilities, and solar installers are offering financing arrangements for solar-powered systems).

Community or Shared Solar Energy

Close to half of all households in the United States are not able to host a rooftop solar panel installation, due to the fact that they rent or they don’t have enough roof space. If you are not able to host a rooftop solar panel installation, there’s another option. You can invest in a community or shared solar program. There are programs that enable a group of participants to pool their purchasing power to buy solar energy into a solar-powered system at a level that fits their needs and their budget. The solar-powered systems can be on - or off-site and may be owned by utilities, a solar energy developer, non-profit entities, or multiple community members.

You should consider community solar in one or more of the following apply to you:

You aren’t able or you do not want a solar panel installation at your home or on your property.

You aren’t able to claim state or federal investment tax credits.

You don’t want to be the one who is responsible for the maintenance or repairs that may need to be done to solar panels.

A Solar Lease

If you are considering a solar lease, you will be able to use the solar power that is produced from the solar-powered systems, but someone else - a third party owns the solar-powered systems equipment. The consumer then pays lease the solar-powered systems equipment. A solar lease will often involve limited upfront investment and fixed monthly payments over a set of time. Under a solar lease arrangement, homeowners will typically pay the solar energy developer a flat monthly fee for the equipment which is based on the estimated amount of solar energy that the solar-powered system will produce. This amount is often not as expensive as their electricity, hence the reason for them to get into a solar lease.

A Solar lease is a good option if one or more of the following apply to you;

You want to add a solar panel installation to your home, but you are unable to do so or you don’t wish you purchase a solar-powered system.

You are ineligible for state or federal investment tax credits.

You don’t want to be the one who is responsible for the maintenance or repairs that may need to be done to solar panels.

You want to reduce your electricity costs by using solar energy.

You wish to sell unused solar energy that is produced by the solar-powered systems back to your utility through a net-metering arrangement.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

Power Purchase Agreements allow the solar energy consumers to be the ones who host the solar-powered systems that are owned by the solar companies and then they can purchase back the solar energy that is generated by the solar panels. A Power Purchase Agreement is a financial agreement where the solar companies arrange the design, permitting, financing and solar panel installation on a customer’s property at a little to no upfront cost. The host consumer will then agree to purchase the solar energy that is generated by the solar-powered systems at a set price per kilowatt-hour of electricity that is produced over the life of the system. The purchase price of solar energy is often lower than the local utility’s retail rate.

A Power Purchase Agreement is a good option for you if one or more of the following apply to you.

You want to add a solar panel installation to your home, but you are unable to do so or you don’t wish you purchase a solar-powered system.

You are ineligible for state or federal investment tax credits.

You don’t want to be the one who is responsible for the maintenance or repairs that may need to be done to solar pan

You don’t want to be the one who is responsible for the maintenance or repairs that may need to be done to solar pan

You wish to sell unused solar energy that is produced by the solar-powered systems back to your utility through a net-metering arrangement.

You’re interested in obtaining solar panels at a limited up-front cost.

Solarize Programs

One of the most efficient, but often overlooked, ways for communities to go solar is through a Solarize program. Solarize programs allow a locally organized group of homeowners and businesses to poll their purchasing power to competitively select a solar installer and negotiate reduced rates. This bulk purchase enables more people to switch to solar energy because the group model makes the process easier, increase demand for solar panels, and also lowers solar panel installation costs.  

Solarize programs are a good option if one or more of the following apply to you:

There is an available Solarize program in your area.

You want to purchase a solar-powered system and get a solar panel installation at your home.

You are eligible for state or federal investment tax credits.

You are willing to be responsible for maintenance or repairs (keep in mind that most solar-powered systems offer warranties on the solar panels and solar power equipment, and many solar installers will offer operations and maintenance plans).

You wish to sell your unused solar energy produced by your solar panels back to your utility through a net-metering arrangement.

You want to increase your home’s value from a solar panel installation.

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