Going Solar (Hopefully)

Today we had Brandon from IES come out to get a look at our home and get an idea of costs. It was the first actual visit by an installer we have had so I guess is sort of a milestone, even if it’s a small one. We have collected a few estimates off the cuff from a few installers, but now we’re getting down to serious business. Those that know me well enough know that, while I’m not some green hippie, I am a big fan of green energy. I’ve been following solar development since I was in high school and it has always been a bit of a dream of mine to have some sort of solar setup.

Now that dream may finally come true! It is a bit too soon to say until we get concrete estimates, but the numbers look about like what we anticipated and my RAX stock is now worth enough to where we need them to be if we wanted to cash them out and go for it. Another reason for wanting to do it sooner is that the Presidential Election has me nervous. Romney has made it pretty clear he does not like green energy incentives. That means the federal tax credits may be at risk, and those are non-trivial. Likewise, CPS may cut the amount of rebates they provide for new installs. So now is pretty much the time to do it if we want to avoid paying more later.

So why solar? It is true that the return on investment can take some time, even with incentives. But I like the idea because it optimizes monthly income. Even though the initial investment is high, once installed, our energy bill should drop like a stone and that leaves more money for other things. I like that. Plus, installing solar effectively locks in the cost. Energy costs are likely to increase but the cost of solar is essentially fixed. If the install can 100% of our electric needs via the sun, those increases never affect us. In practice, it will probably dip to 75% in the summer, but that still means energy increases affect us less. This is especially true if/when CPS starts metered billing (if they haven’t already). I don’t really bank on it, but if we do contribute more energy than we need, CPS will end up paying us. So that’s pretty neat as well.

The energy from the sun comes at us whether we use it or not. The sun is basically going “here, have some energy!” It would be foolish not to continue to pursue goals of harvesting that energy for good. And, even if our install is a tiny piece to that puzzle, I think it’s a good one. If nothing else, the panels on the roof should be a good talking point!