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Confessions of a Solar Electric System Owner

Recently, Pyccku , a well respected member of the TreeHugger forums installed a solar electric system on his home and documented the progress on his blog. We discussed that it would be beneficial to share his experience installing solar panels, so his experience can help others decide if solar power systems energize their lifestyles. Check out the Questions & Answers session below: Q: What made you first gain interest in solar panels? A: When we saw gas prices go up, we realized that energy costs are only going to go up, not down. We also hated that here in AZ there was so much energy coming from the sun, but hardly anyone tapping into it. So we did the calculations and found that even if the cost of energy stays constant, over the next 25 years our electric bill would add up to more than the cost of the solar. Q: How much are you saving per month? A: We haven’t gotten our first bill – but our average pre-solar bill was $165 on the equalizer plan (same amount year-round). We are anticipating having no bill for 8-10 months out of the year and only a minimal bill in the hottest summer months. Q: How long did it take to install the solar panels? A: Once they had the permits it took a little over a week for the whole project. The panels, inverters and wiring only took a couple of days. But we built an addition to our patio to put the panels on, so that added some extra time. Q: Was it difficult to find a solar panel installer? A: No, there are several here in Phoenix. Q: How much were paying originally for electricity? A: $165 per month. Q: Did you have to move out of the house to have them installed? A: No. We didn’t even have to be home for them to do any of the work! Q: How many solar panels do you have? A: 36 Q: Do your solar panels power your entire house? A: During most of the year, yes. During the summer we’ll probably need some power from the grid because of the heavy a/c use. Q: Did your electric spinning backwards once they were installed? A: The meter itself doesn’t spin backwards. It does keep track of how many kWh we take from the grid, and how many hours we give to the grid. Then the power company does the math and credits us for any excess. Right now, since we aren’t using much power at all, we are only using 10kWh/day, and we are giving 15kWh/day to APS....

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Oncor Electric Delivery to offer Rebates for Solar

Oncor is a regulated electric distribution and transmission business that provides electricity delivery to consumers. Oncor operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, providing power to 3 million electric delivery points over more than 102,000 miles of distribution and 14,000 miles of transmission lines. Today the company revealed details of a plan to promote solar power to its customers by offering incentives to install solar panels that produce electricity. Oncor will pay up to $2.46 per watt for residential customers to install a solar electric system up to 10 kilowatts (kW)….that’s a significant rebate! Consumers will be able to Oncor will be opening up applications to their rebate program on December 1st and they expect 200 homes and 10 businesses to be part of the solar power installation rebate program moving forward in 2009. So if your an Oncor customer and want to install solar panels and get money back for going green, make sure to mark your calender to apply on December...

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"Free electricity" from the Sun claim is exaggerated.

I’ve been seeing many news articles and blogs that claim once you buy solar panels you are getting “free electricity”, well it’s true the Sun emits free energy down to Earth everyday, but the equipment needed to harvest the “free energy” into electricity to power our lives or provide hot water for our homes requires a financial investment. In reality, until you break even on the solar power system you invested in what you have done in reality is pre-paid your energy expenses and hedged yourself from raising energy expenses. Solar Panels are very reliable because there are no moving parts, the systems can last over 30 years. So after you break even on your solar power investment then you can truly say that the sun is supplying you with free electricity. States that offer incentives and rebates combined with the increased federal tax credit next year for solar power systems, most systems will break even faster moving forward in 2009. Solar Power will become a more sought after investment. How do you feel about people making claims about solar panels giving you “free electricity”? Please...

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Surging demand for Nevada’s RenewableGenerations rebate program

The citizen’s of Nevada have spoken in support of NV Energy’s RenewableGenerations rebate programwhich gives homeowners, businesses, public buildings and schools a generous rebate for installing solar panels, wind power systems. Agriculture customers can also qualify for a hydroelectric rebate. Below is a quick overview of the rebates available for each technology. SolarGenerations Rebate Program: Residential: $2.30 per watt $11,500 maximum rebate Small Business: $2.30 per watt $69,000 maximum rebate Schools: $4.60 per Watt Public Buildings: $4.60 per watt WindGenerations Rebate Program: Residential, small business, agriculture: $2.50 per watt up to 10 kW $1.50 watt above 10 kW Schools and Public Buildings: $3.00/watt up to 10 kW $2.00/watt above 10 kW HydroGenerations Rebate Program: All agricultural, grid-connected customers: $2.50 per watt 962 citizens of Nevada filed an application for the rebate program, majority of the applicants are installing residential grid tie solar power systems. Cumulatively, Nevada is developing 9.3MW of solar, wind and hydroelectric projects, thanks to the rebate program. Regions of the USA in which states force the utilities to give rebates to their customers to install renewable energy power generation systems is where solar and wind power systems thrive. Currently, NV Energy’s SolarGenerations and HydroGenenrations program has closed, although they will start to take additional applications soon. The WindGenerations program is still open for applications. To date, NV Energy has paid its customers 7 million dollars Not located in Nevada? Don’t worry, there might be a rebate program in your neck of the woods, be sure to check out the DSIRE website to learn more about state and federal rebates to install solar panels and wind...

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LED – High efficiency light Bulbs save you money

Many people dream of eliminating their entire electric bill by using solar panels or putting up a wind turbine, although that dream is out of their reach because of the high upfront related with an energy hog’s electric consumption. When you are energy inefficient, eliminating your energy can be associated with a very high upfront cost. Although you have the power to reduce your consumption by looking into energy efficiency there are product out there such as EarthLED high efficiency light bulbs that can reduce your consumption significantly and save you lots of money on electricity costs. LED light bulbs are very reliable, many people don’t know that the average lifetime of a LED bulb is over 10 years! Imagine just the cost savings of not having to replace a bulb for the next 10 years. LED consume only a couple watts of electricity, therefore only cost a couple dollars in electricity costs to run the entire year and their are just as bright at traditional light bulbs. The case study above shows a building that replaced 1100 light bulbs with EarthLEDs, not only did the building actually lower the temperature in the building by a couple degrees, but the amazing aspect is that they are saving 450kWh a day! Based on the cost of electricity of 10 cents per kWh and comparing it to the total cost of 1,100 EarthLEDs the building would break even within 5 years on their investment. The calculation did not include the cost of changing light bulbs or factor in energy inflation and rebates received for high efficiency light bulbs, with those variables factored in we’re looking at a break even point lower than 5 years. Why not CFLs? Well, CFLs have a lower upfront cost, although they also include mercury with is a pollutant that is bad for the environment and CFL light bulbs are not as efficient as LEDs, plus you have to replace CFL light bulbs more often. Taking those points into consideration, the LED light bulb does make more environmental and economic sense. Lighting is typically 10% of the electrical demand of a building, by using LED lights to lower your consumption first in the future you would need to buy less solar panels or wind turbines to eliminate your electricity bill. It’s always more affordable to reduce energy consumption then produce your own. Solar Panels and LED lights make a very cost effective partnership. So what do you think about LED bulbs? looking forward to your...

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Purchase a Skystream 3.7, get up to $4,000 in tax incentives

Southwest Windpower, a leading manufacturer of small scale wind turbines such as the SkyStream 3.7 grid tie wind power system played a huge role in the passage of the new legislation which offers a federal tax credit for qualified small scale wind turbines. The landmark legislation was part of the economic bailout bill passed in early October 2008 and is a major leap for small wind industry because this is the first federal incentive for small wind power systems since 1985. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for small scale wind will be available for wind generators installed through 2016 and will give the small scale wind power system owner up to $4,000 federal tax credit. Andy Kruse, founder of Southwest Windpower fought tirelessly in congress to make sure Small Scale Wind Power Systems were included in the extension of the renewable energy ITC. The result of the legislation’s success will provide thousands of new jobs and harbor an environment which would generate a 40% annual growth rate of the small scale wind industry. To you, the person who is considering a small scale wind turbine like the Skystream 3.7 the new tax credit reduces the total upfront cost of installing a small scale wind power system, making the technology more affordable for people in the USA. What do you think about this legislation? Will it entice you to produce your own clean...

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