Not Going Solar? You're Crazy!

If you’re looking to save money on your monthly energy bill, you may want to considering going solar. The combination of significant federal and state incentives and dropping equipment costs (see chart below) make the price of solar energy remarkably low. In fact, in a typical scenario, if financed, your monthly loan payment on your solar panels can be less than or equal to your current monthly electricity bill. That means you can save money from day one. And, of course, once your loan is paid off, your energy savings start accumulating.

Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Price_history_of_silicon_PV_cells_since_1977.svg

Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Price_history_of_silicon_PV_cells_since_1977.svg

Want proof? Here’s how the numbers pan out: The average price of solar across the country in 2017 ranged from $2.87-$3.85 per watt. Local contractors, however, were offering prices this year as low as $2.74 a watt through the Go Solar Tompkins program.

How much does a system cost?

Using these local figures, an average 5,000 watt system would price out at $13,700. Subtract $2,000 from NYSERDA’s $0.40/w rebate (this rebate decreases over time), which leaves you at $11,700. Subtract 30% ($4,110) from that from the Federal Tax Credit and another 25% from the New York State tax credit ($2,925). You now have your final price of $4,665 (with a total of $9,035 is covered by federal and state incentives). Furthermore, income-eligible households (in Tompkins County, a family of four earning less than $69,503) qualify for twice the current NYSERDA rebate, getting $0.80/watt rather than $0.40/watt, or $4,000 for a 5,000 watt system instead of $2,000.

Is this cheaper than your monthly electrical bills?

Say you took out a loan to pay for it. Several local banks offer low-rate loans. Let’s use Alternatives’ Solar Home Equity as an example, with their upper rate of 5%. Your monthly loan payment for your $4,665 solar system over 15 years at 5% is almost $37. Your 5,000-watt system, if well-sited, would produce approximately 5,500 kWh a year, or approximately 460 kWh a month. Local NYSEG prices hover around 10 or 11 cents a kWh, but even if we use the more conservative $0.10/kWh, you would be saving $46 a month on electricity not purchased. Paying $37 on your loan, means you’ll be saving $9 a month from day one. With lower loan rates, or using higher electricity prices, your savings will be greater.

We’re not making this up. Read this story about Gail Neely from Newfield who is experiencing these savings.

So why wouldn’t you go solar? (OK, fine, you may have a shaded roof, be a renter, be moving soon, not qualify for tax credits, etc. There are valid reasons, of course. But for every good reason there is a good solution, which while perhaps not as financially succulent as the above scenario, still make good sense. These solutions include: installing panels in your yard or on a barn, or in community solar farm, leasing the panels, or purchasing green power through an ESCO.)

Interested in learning more about going solar? Check out the Get Your GreenBack website for more information, including a list of local contractors, and an easy guide to the steps you need to take to go solar, which we recommend you do while the going is hot!