Solar power is your choice...

There are multiple ways to evaluate any investment. Does it make you happy? Does it make you money? Does it help build a better home environment?

ECOnomics

As home energy options become more common, you may find yourself wondering if solar is worth the time and financial investment. Is it really possible that a home solar system could produce energy for less money than nuclear and gas generators? How could a few panels on a roof make electricity cheaper than state of the art power plants? 

Despite enjoying a considerable head start in scale and development, conventional thermal electric generators (ie, coal, gas and nuclear) are not saving you any money. In PECO territory, it costs about $0.06 per kW to generate electricity. But generating it is only half the story. It is another $0.07 per kW to move those electrons to your house via high voltage transmission and PECO’s own distribution lines. In theory, PECO is in a competitive, deregulated energy marketplace. In practice, very few entities control the production and distribution of electricity in Pennsylvania. They like it that way too.

To be fair, it made sense in the past for utilities to operate as monopolies. Building our original electric grid was a tremendous engineering accomplishment. The complexity of electrifying large areas required extreme precision and control. It still does. While it remains an engineering marvel, the grid needs to evolve.

There is now a very inconvenient truth in electric markets across the nation: homeowners can safely produce their own energy for less money than their utility company. Even better, the energy produced at home is renewable, non-polluting and quiet. A typical system in Upper Dublin installed today will produce electricity over the next 25 years that costs on average $0.06 per kilowatt. That is six cents per kilowatt or 1,000 watts. That same kilowatt costs thirteen cents from PECO. In 25 years, a PECO kilowatt will cost $0.17 or more. Take your pick: small batch solar for little more than a nickel or big, dirty PECO for three times the price?

Some might say that solar power is artificially supported by subsidies. They have a small point but it is definitely not the whole story. There are real credits and incentives today offered by both state and federal governments. Throughout U.S. history, government has used tax credits and incentives to encourage public works such as canals, railroads and industries like aluminum manufacturing, oil, natural gas and semi conductors. These efforts are enacted to speed up private investment in technologies that are considered essential for future economic prosperity and national security. Quite often, the loudest critics are those whose own economic interests are threatened by new technology and progress.

Simply put, incentives and credits exist today to help connect us with a better future. Let's understand and use these tools.

Here is a look at how the incentives work for Upper Dublin homeowners using a single dollar:

Bottom Line:

There are many reasons to choose renewable energy. It is good for your wallet, your neighborhood and the planet. It will require some effort and money. We can help you understand the pros and cons of paying cash upfront or taking out a green energy loan.

While paying for your entire system upfront offers the best ROI, it does require the initial cash. For homeowners able to pay upfront, the 'interest' on solar versus conventional CDs or savings accounts makes the decision a no brainer.

For others interested in the long term savings and an immediate tax credit,  a loan for your home energy projects might be a good option to consider. Payment terms vary from 10-20 years and typically the entire loan period is cash flow positive.

For those considering a loan, we recommend Clean Energy Credit Union. They are a not-for-profit, tax-exempt cooperative with a mission dedicated to only green energy lending. They get it. 

Here is their link: https://www.cleanenergycu.org/

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