Why should I install a solar electric system for my home or business?
Here are five good reasons to go solar:
- Utility incentive programs and federal tax credits can reduce the cost of a solar electric system by as much as 50%-60%.
- Solar power is a renewable resource. Your electricity consumption won’t contribute to energy resource scarcity for your children and grandchildren.
- Solar electricity is clean and non-polluting, producing no greenhouse gas emissions. Solar system owners are helping combat global warming one roof at a time.
- Solar electricity is a wise, low-risk investment that pays better than CDs and is safer than the stock market.
- Solar electricity is produced locally and reduces the need for new transmission infrastructure, huge mining operations, nuclear waste storage and fossil fuel resources from abroad.
Why should I choose to work with Consolidated Solar?
- Experience: Consolidated Solar has installed the largest solar systems in Albuquerque. We install a solar system every working day on a home or commercial business in New Mexico.
- We are a local business, meaning that every dollar you spend with us positively impacts New Mexico’s economy. All of our owners are local, and everyone from the sales team to the install crew thinks and acts like an owner, ensuring that your experience with us will be handled with professionalism and care.
- Values: Our vision for solar power and renewable energy extends beyond the success of our company. As people who live and do business in New Mexico, we are passionate about our state’s leadership in renewable energy technology. Our members have been integral in the development of state policy regarding solar power in New Mexico. We spend time working with our legislators in changing policy, we are active in the community developing educational programs and assisting nonprofit organizations in the promotion of solar energy.
- Quality: We custom design and install each system for optimal performance, durability, and aesthetics. Our commitment to quality has given us a solid reputation in the state, and we hold the distinction of being a preferred vendor for the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico.
- Economics: Our systems are always competitively priced and are designed to be sensible and affordable investments. The value we provide to our customers is second to none.
- Warranty and Customer Service: We provide a 10-year warranty on all residential installations. Our equipment manufacturers provide warranties of 25 years for solar panels and 10 years for inverters and racking systems. We are committed to forging long-term relationships with our clients, and offer lifetime assistance with all of our systems. Should you ever have questions or concerns about your system’s performance, we want to be the first call you make.
- Customer Satisfaction: Our customers consistently recommend Consolidated Solar to their friends and family.
What factors does CST consider when developing proposals?
And how does CST calculate projections for how my solar system should be designed, how much it will cost, and what performance I should expect from my system?
In developing proposals, Consolidated Solar Tech (CST) considers a wide variety of factors, including energy prices and incentives that return some of the cost of a solar system to the owner. On most projects, the following will be applicable:
- At the federal level, the Investment Tax Credit will be awarded to the customer in the form of a tax reduction.
- Our projections assume that the owner has a sufficient tax liability to use the Federal tax credit in year one, or carry it forward. The incentive program allows an owner to carry the credit forward for as long as 20 years if the full credit cannot be used in the first year after purchase.
While PV systems have proven operational performance lifetimes in excess of 30 years, our full financial analysis assumes a timeline of 25 years. This time frame coincides with the manufacturer’s warranty for panel performance. Savings will be considerably higher than projected when considering full asset lifetime. We do not offer case-specific tax advice, and every situation is unique. Tax credits are based on the general tax credit language, and you should consult with an accountant regarding your own unique tax scenario.
Cost of energy: In recent years, PNM has been seeking aggressive electricity rate hikes. Through rate increases and fuel surcharges, PNM raised rates roughly six percent during 2007-2008. PNM received a significant rate increase for 2009 and an additional increase in 2010 along with a removal of the cap on allowable fuel surcharges. PNM’s initial request for the PRC have raised residential rates 24% sine 2007 in total. Our financial model assumes a conservative 5.0% annual rate increase to calculate future savings.
Renewable Energy Credit Program: PNM has implemented a Small PV Customer program which establishes a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) purchase contract. Under this program PNM will purchase the renewable energy credits associated with the solar system output for $0.13 per kWh for a 12-year period regardless of whether the actual energy produced is consumed on site.
No Sales Tax for Renewables: The purchase of a PV system is tax-exempt from gross receipts tax, thereby creating an energy source that is also tax-free. Avoiding 6.875% sales tax on the energy from the PV system over the lifetime of the system results in substantial savings while at the same time establishing a hedge against tax increases on energy.
What does an average solar electric system cost?
Most residential solar PV systems cost between $6,000 to $15,000 (after rebates and tax incentives) which includes the cost of all materials, installation, freight, and permit fees. You can also go solar for a minimal initial payment with SunPower Financing.
What is the size of an average solar electric system?
Averages won’t help in sizing a solar system for your specific home or business any more than an “average” shoe size will help you find a shoe that fits comfortably. Sizing a solar PV system involves careful consideration of three main factors:
- Project budget.
- The customer’s electricity consumption.
- Available sunny space where a system can be installed. CST’s professional staff will consider all these factors when we personally come to your home or business to take our measurements and offer you an estimate.
Can you determine the cost of a solar system based on the square footage of my home?
Electricity consumption is much more dependent on the number and type of home appliances, number of people living in the house, and usage habits than square footage. At Consolidated Solar, we custom-design all of our systems based on each individual customer’s specific site, energy needs and budget.
So how do you estimate the cost of a solar electric system for my home or business?
We start by analyzing your recent utility bills to determine how much electricity you consume on an annual basis. We factor in specific issues that are unique to your home or business such as available roof area and shading from trees or other buildings. We’ll then be able to show you the investment required to produce as much as 100%, or as little as 10%, of your electrical power needs.
What is “net-metering?”
For solar electric systems installed on a home or business that is connected to the grid (i.e. “grid-tied”), net metering allows you to have one electric meter which can spin forward or backwards at the same rate. When the sun is shining, your solar system is producing electricity that can be directly used by your home or business, thereby offsetting the amount of electricity being purchased from the utility company. But if the electricity is not immediately used, where does it go?
Many homes are empty during the day while everyone is away at work or school. During these times, the electricity is actually sold back to the utility company, causing your electric meter to spin backwards to give you retail credit. Your electric meter may spin backwards and forwards on a daily basis, but you’ll only be billed according to the “net” reading on your meter at the end of each month.
In this way, net metering allows you to take advantage of, and get retail credit for, every unit of electricity that your solar electric system produces. If you produce more power than you use each month, the credits will carry over for later use for up to 12 months. If you still have a credit left over at the end of the year, the utility may pay you for the excess power you produced, or you may elect to carry credits forward indefinitely for future usage.
What modifications would be necessary for my house to run on solar electricity?
Very few, if any. Solar panels are relatively lightweight, so there are rarely any structural modifications required. Conduit and wire must be installed from the solar panels to the electrical service panel, but this can be accomplished easily. Typical installations take only two or three days, with only one hour without power.
Would I need to rewire my house before installing a solar system?
No. Grid tie systems simply feed into a breaker in your main service panel. Adding back-up power capability requires the installation of a sub-panel to isolate your emergency loads (refrigerator, well pump, furnace blower etc), but this work is simple.
Would I need to use different appliances? Do I need to use DC appliances if the solar panels only produce DC electricity?
No, the solar panels feed DC electricity to a device called an inverter. The inverter changes the solar electricity into utility-grade AC electricity so that it can be used by your home or fed back into the grid.
Do I need batteries in my solar electric system?
Batteries are only necessary if you are
- Living “off-the-grid.”
- Living in an area with a high occurrence of power outages.
Most solar electric systems in urban areas, where grid connections already exist, forgo batteries and effectively use the utility grid as a battery. Not having batteries in a system reduces the overall cost and virtually eliminates maintenance.
But if I don’t have batteries, how will I get electricity during the night or when the sun isn’t shining?
If you’re tied to the grid, then you simply take electricity from the utility. This happens whenever you are consuming more electricity than your solar system is producing – such as at night or during cloudy weather. When the sun is shining, however, and you are producing more power than you’re consuming, the solar system will feed the excess electricity back into the grid. Each month, your utility meter may spin backwards and forwards on a daily basis, but your monthly utility bill will only show the “net” usage that occurred.
If you produce more power than you use each month, the credits will carry over for later use for up to 12 months. Afterwards, if you still have a credit left over, the utility may pay you for the excess power you produced, or you may elect to carry credits forward indefinitely for future usage. (See “What is net metering?”)
What happens if it’s cloudy or rainy for several days in a row?
In inclement weather, your solar electric system will produce less electricity, but you will not notice the difference inside your home. Grid-tied solar systems never “run out” of electricity. Although solar panels only produce their maximum output in full, unobstructed sunlight, they will still produce power on cloudy or rainy days – albeit less than normal.
During these times, you end up buying more power from the utility company to make up the “deficit.” When we design systems, we take into account regional weather patterns and can accurately estimate monthly and annual solar electricity production.
Can I heat my home with a solar electric system?
It is possible, but it’s usually not the most cost effective method for heating your home. In general, using electricity to generate heat requires a huge amount of electrical power. A better investment would be to minimize your home’s need for heat by installing additional insulation, high quality windows and window coverings, and possibly a solar thermal heating system.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels carry 20-to-25 year warranties, with life expectancies of more than 40 years.
How efficient are solar panels? How much power can they produce per square foot?
Typical solar panels have efficiencies ranging from 13% to 15% and produce about 10-to-13 watts per square foot. High-efficiency panels such as those made by SunPower reach up to 19% efficiency and produce about 17 watts per square foot. Some panels can reach up to 30% or more, but the cost of the equipment required for that level of efficiency is usually prohibitive for all but military or space applications.
How much do solar electric systems weigh?
In general, solar electric systems weigh less than four pounds per square foot, which is comparable to the weight of a layer of asphalt shingles. Almost all roof structures can accommodate the additional weight of a solar system.
What if there’s a hailstorm? Can the solar panels withstand hail?
Solar electric panels are built with high-impact tempered glass. The solar industry standard dictates that panels should be able to withstand 3/4″ hail at 60 mph. If your solar panels do suffer any hail damage, you can claim the damage via your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Will I have to pay more for or make any changes to my homeowner’s insurance policy?
We recommend that you contact your insurance agent to determine if additional coverage is needed to insure the solar electric system. Typically, any increase in premium is put in place to cover the replacement cost of the system rather than the system being viewed as a liability by the insurance company.
How are solar panel prices expected to change in the near future?
Starting in early 2005, the rapid growth of the PV and semiconductor industries began to outpace the global capacity to refine silicon, leading to the first price increases in the PV industry in decades. Solar panel prices increased by 15-20% from 2005-2007 and then leveled off in 2008. The silicon shortage ended in late 2008, and solar panel prices decreased as much as 33% in 2009 largely due to decreased demand resulting from the global economic crisis. We always stay informed on the latest trends in solar panel supply, demand, and pricing and will be happy to discuss the most current information with you when designing your system.
How can I learn more about PNM’s solar rebate program?
By contacting us or checking on PNM’s website to learn about their solar rebate program. Here you’ll find useful information about their solar rebate program and application process. We also encourage you to contact us at any time for further details and program updates.
How can I maximize my solar energy investment? And how else can I make a difference?
Use your electricity as efficiently as possible. Appliance upgrades to EnergyStar-rated models can make a huge impact. An EnergyStar refrigerator or washing machine purchased today will use half the energy of a standard model that’s just five years old. Improvements to your home’s lighting, insulation, windows, appliances, etc., can all reduce your electrical demand with relatively small investments.
Not only are energy efficiency improvements the “low hanging fruit,” they are also the most effective way to make a difference – from both an economic and environmental perspective. When you are ready to install a solar electric system, it will be able to offset a larger percentage (or all) of your home’s electricity consumption.
We also install energy monitoring systems which give you 24-hour visibility of your home energy usage and solar production.
What is a Renewable Energy Credit (REC)?
We like the definition and explanation of RECs given by the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Renewable energy credits (RECs) correct the bias against renewable energy in the electricity market by making sure that renewable generation companies receive payment for the public benefits they produce. The fact that environmental and other benefits are not recognized in the cost of power is the starting point for creating a new commodity that represents those benefits. That commodity is the renewable energy credit. When a fossil fuel or nuclear power plant operates, it is really creating many products: the electricity itself and all the byproducts, like air and water pollution, hazardous and radioactive waste, the risk of meltdown, and so on.
Customers only pay for the electricity. Society pays for the byproducts through a host of unacknowledged costs: health problems, environmental degradation, subsidies for oil and gas production, limits on liability for nuclear power plant operators, and many others. When a renewable power plant runs, like conventional plants it creates electricity, but unlike them it also creates a reduction of pollution, waste, and risk. The “byproducts” are cleaner air and water, less waste, reduced fuel imports, and lower risk of catastrophic accidents. When customers buy electricity generated from renewable sources, they pay only for the power and society pays nothing.
Renewable energy generators sell cleaner power, but are paid only for power. RECs represent all of the renewable energy benefits that electricity markets ignore, including environmental and energy security benefits. The table below (where is this table?) outlines the “value” of a renewable energy credit, listing many of the benefits of renewable power that are “free” to society, because nobody is paying for them. But unless someone starts paying for them, many of these generators will go out of business and the benefits will be lost. By turning the value of renewable energy into a commodity traded separately from energy, RECs make that value clearly evident.
The renewables premium is no longer hidden in the overall price of a renewable kilowatt hour. Every unit of renewable energy generated and sold would create one renewable energy credit. A REC could take the form of a piece of paper, like a currency. It would list the number of kilowatt-hours, the year and state of origin, and the type of generation (solar, wind, etc.).
Since renewable generation companies produce the power, they would be the original owners of RECs. Electricity providers could purchase these RECs to fulfill their compliance requirements. RECs could also be traded electronically, like stock. The success of the sulfur dioxide emissions-trading program, instituted by the Clean Air Act, has shown that a systems of allowance and credit trading can be effective, easy to administer, and cheap.
The sulfur-trading system works like this: every power generator must meet a certain cap on emissions of sulfur dioxide, a key source of acid rain. To meet the cap, generators can either invest in pollution-control devices (like scrubbers), buy cleaner coal, or buy credits from other generators. If they “overcomply” with the cap-that is, if they stay well under the cap, they can sell their extra credits to generators that would find meeting the cap too expensive.
Call us for top quality solar panel design, installation and maintenance for your home or business!
Call (505) 792-6359 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.