Kicking Off SolarizeRVA 2021
By: Andrew Grigsby, Energy Services Director
Do you have one of these? I bought this solar-powered calculator in 1996, and it still works just fine. That’s right, 25 years old, and those tiny solar panels still power out trigonometry and lots other things I still don’t quite understand.
But my point is not to date myself, rather, it’s to demonstrate how durable and reliable solar panels are. Here we have cheap, quarter-century-old equipment that keeps chugging along. Of course today’s panels are as much improved as this year’s smart phones compared to the flip phone (or was it a car phone?) of 1996. They pack way more electricity-producing technology into each panel such that many homes can now produce 50%, 75%, even 100% of their annual electricity needs with rooftop solar.
If you’ve been curious about solar for a while, Viridiant is launching the 2021 edition of our campaign to help our neighbors understand the technology, the logistics of an installation, tax credits, financing options, and the overall opportunity. We call it SolarizeRVA. And our goal is 1000 new solar homes in the Richmond region. This campaign is a continuation of a long-time project of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance, with whom Viridiant merged a year ago.
Here’s how SolarizeRVA works: You call us, email us, fill out our on-line form, or join one of our webinars or community meetings. Our staff take a look at your roof (or yard/field) and your electric bill and talk you through how much solar electricity you could generate and how that could work for you financially. We’ll also discuss other energy-smart technologies and offer you an in-home energy analysis for as little as $45. Basically, you get easy access to some of Virginia’s most experienced residential energy and construction professionals to provide un-biased expertise without a sales pitch.
Over the coming months we’ll offer numerous public events where area residents can join in the conversation and have their specific questions answered. Our first is a webinar on Thursday, March 25 at 7PM. Register for free at https://www.viridiant.org/event/solarizerva-2021-kick-off-webinar. In addition to providing education, SolarizeRVA includes access to vetted installers to whom we can refer you.
It’s a great time to go solar. The federal tax credit of 26% is set to go down to 22% at the end of 2022 (details at https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc). Installation on your roof takes just 1-3 days depending on the complexity of the operation, and 99% of the work is outside, so it really is a safe undertaking during social distancing. Our re-design of the Solarize model offers both consumers and industry partners more flexibility to get to the best solutions and best prices on a customer-by-customer basis.
There are no free panels. The utilities are not “paying you” to go solar. There is one simple federal tax rebate. We can explain all of that – without a sales pitch. Viridiant is a mission-driven non-profit that has led the charge for cleaner, greener building in Virginia since 2006. Our experts are always available to explain the technology, financing options, installation process, calculating your ROI, and logistics of solar, insulation, HVAC, water heaters, appliances, electric vehicles, and more. If you want to lower costs, improve indoor air quality and comfort, or reduce your carbon footprint, we’re here to help you make the most cost-effective choices.
Here’s my family’s solar story. We’ve had solar panels on the roof of our house for almost exactly 4 years. St. Patrick’s day is our “solarversary”… appropriately green. In that time, the only problem we’ve ever had is with my router dropping its connection with the equipment. Meantime, the panels have produced over 32,867 kilowatthours of electricity. At 11-12 cents per kilowatthour, that’s $3665. After the federal tax credit, we paid $10,400 for this 6KW array (20 panels). Using the simple payback method, we’re in the clear in around 11 years – at today’s electricity prices. Where else are you going to get a guaranteed 9% return on an investment?
But we pay for this array as part of our mortgage. We did a rehab mortgage and borrowed a little extra to pay for the solar. So, I look at it from a cashflow point of view. I pay about $53/month to have the array there. That’s the cost of applying $10,400 to my mortgage. But it makes an average $76/month worth of electricity. I call that making money – from day one. If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage or buying a new home, this could be as good a deal for you.
So what makes a good solar site? First, it’s sunshine. Lots of sunshine. The area should be unshaded most of the day. And if it’s a roof, it should be facing generally south. You want your solar panels to produce as much electricity as possible. They produce the most when the sun’s rays hit them straight on. You also should have a roof that’s in very good shape. You don’t want to install a solar array on shingles that need replacing in less than 10 years.
But you don’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Just reach out to us and we’ll save you hours of research. Not every home has a good site for solar panels. That’s why we encourage everyone to get a home energy inspection as part of the process.Register to join us for our webinar on March 25th at 7pm!