Thursday, April 2, 2009

March 2009: Lots Happening

March 25, 2009

We've played phone tag with the groSolar guy. Once we caught up with him we were really impressed. He he really knows the topic and wants to get this system built as much as we do. He's coming out to the house on Tuesday, March 31 to assess, measure and write up a proposal. He checked and confirmed that we can receive our high rate New Jersey rebate and still take the federal tax credit.

March 21, 2009

The BP Solar representative won't present us with any deal that includes our high rate New Jersey rebate. We decided to call groSolar after seeing a full-page ad in the Courier-Post.

March. 13, 2009

We received confirmation from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program that we are still on track to receive the higher rebate so long as our system is operational by July 31, 2009 (the offer was valid for one year).

March 12, 2009

A.S. came by, took measurements and wrote up a proposal (which I don't have because either he took it or I lost it). The only snag we see is with the New Jersey rebate. He doesn't think we will be able to get the higher rebate at the rate from last August.

March 4, 2009

Attended the seminar at Home Depot. Here are some key sections of the literature that was handed out:

Why solar electric now?

The average system installed in New Jersey eliminates 10,000 lbs. of CO2 every year! Installing solar today will help decrease your carbon footprint immediately. Additionally, we must remember that energy is a global problem. Worldwide demand for energy is increasing as supply is decreasing. What it means to us...higher and higher pricing.

Cost of electric power doubled in the last 7 years - thats 9% a year! Energy prices will continue to spiral up, and those that rent their electricity will have to pay whatever their utility company asks.

How Does a Solar Electric System Work?

When the light of the sun interacts with your solar modules (array), direct current is produced. That direct current is sent to your inverter and the inverter changes (converts) that direct current into alternating current. The alternating current is then sent to your circuit breaker and you now are using clean, natural power in your home. When you produce more power than you use, the excess power goes through your electric meter and that meter actually spins backwards as the power goes back to the grid. At night you will get your electricity from the grid. You make deposits, you make withdrawals. This is called net metering.

Is solar right for you?

You need a sunny roof with NO SHADE. South facing is best. East or west also works. North facing does not qualify for your rebate.

The news from the seminar was mixed but mostly good. New Jersey has scaled back the rebate program from $3.50 per watt to $1.75 per watt. I'm pretty sure we would be grandfathered in at the old, higher rate since we qualified and locked in last August.

There is also a 30% federal tax credit that is completely uncapped. We wouldn't benefit from that until 2009 tax returns are filed but it's a big chunk of money.

They are also offering a program to guarantee a floor price for the SRECs that we would sell, provided that we bundle them into their program. Also, they are offering to finance the balance not covered by rebate or tax credit through the power company (PSE&G) itself. We probably wouldn't need to bother with that part since we've already taken out a loan for our project.

By the way, New Jersey isn't the only state that offers incentives. Here is an online database of incentive programs across the country:

Here's the typical deal as presented at this seminar (see the BP Solar / Home Depot website for more detail):

36 modules, 200 watt each - complete Home Depot price (with coupon) -- $ 59,256

30% federal tax credit - $ 17,777

New Jersey Rebate $ - 12,600

Net cost: $ 28,879

Finance 28,879 for 10 years at 6.5% interest rate through PSE&G = $328 / month.

Their model includes an average monthly SREC income of $317 and average monthly savings on electricity bills of $144 per month. These aren't figured into the above sample deal but would enhance the value of the system.

I was interested, and arranged for A.S. to come out to the house, assess what they could do and work up a spec and a deal.

March 1, 2009

While in Home Depot we ran into A.S., a BP Solar representative who was there pitching the new solar collaboration between BP and Home Depot. It sounded pretty good. There are some new incentives available.

Here's a place to read up on what BP Solar and Home Depot are offering:

I signed up to attend a seminar a few days later in the store.

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