My guest blogger today is none other than my husband, Whit Trovillion, who is passionate about renewable energy such a solar. He was an “early adopter” for a solar system installed on our farm and purchased an electric car. We have not only lowered or eliminated energy bills, but he also was able to commute for free. Whit is so committed to solar energy, especially in our home state of Maryland, that he took a job with a solar company as a second career and is excited to speak with anyone who might want further information and details. Read all about our experiences about installing solar on the farm in his words:
Investing in Solar Energy: Does it Makes Sense (Cents)?
Why did I go solar?
It was 2009 in the teeth of the “great recession.” Interest rates were near zero. I had a CD mature and my bank offered to roll it over at something like 6/8th of one percent. After quietly weeping, I started to look for other places to put that money.
I am a conservative investor; I will never put my money in bitcoin, derivatives, commodities, or anything even remotely exotic. I started discussing going solar with a friend who was in similar circumstances and we both decided to sign contracts that week.
Using a Barn, Outbuilding, or Indoor Arena for Solar Panels
I have a small barn which faces solar south, so it was a no-brainer where to put the photovoltaic modules. Most barns face solar south – for reasons that are not clear to me. The designer was able to fit 11.34 kw on this space with sixty-three 185 watt panels. Power density and prices have BOTH improved since then, but this is what was available at the time.
There were brief delays in the project having to do with inspections, permitting, the installation of the “net meter” and other administrivia, but overall, the installation went very quickly with without major problems.
I had sized this system for 90% of my needs. What I failed to take into consideration was that the same month that my utility threw the switch on my array, my teenaged daughter moved into her freshman dorm. Overnight, I went from collecting 90% of my needs to 120% of my needs. Who knew teenaged girls used so much hot water? An electric car made short work out of the surplus, and now I commute for free – courtesy of that big nuclear reactor in the sky 93 million miles away. It just works!
Income Taxes, Rebates, Other Incentives
I was eligible for a federal income tax credit for the return I filed that spring. I got a nice rebate from the MD Energy Administration, and Howard County gave me a property tax holiday the next year. Since that date, I have earned a nice sum in Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). Every time my array puts out a Megawatt Hour of production (about once a month), I get a nice deposit in my bank account.
I calculate that the array paid for itself in 6.5 years and the remaining five years have been entirely windfall. Your mileage may vary, but this was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
You don’t have to be a committed greenie for solar power to make sense for you. You just have to do the math.
Whit T. – a new Solar Energy World Employee.