It would have been great to blog about the process of getting our system installed, but now it’s been up for more than a year, so, too late for that. The array generates all our electricity. Read below for a summary, written last year.
It was definitely a learning experience to see this through. I had way more companies come out to bid than I should have, but it seemed every one had different ideas. I really liked the discreet look of the Sunpower modules, and only a few companies had rights to install them. We ended up going with SolarWorks, Inc. from VT. I signed the contract in April ’07.
Every local government has their own way of dealing with permits, etc, and Ossining Village basically outsources all liability, choosing to require the homeowner to have an engineer or architect draw up plans for practically anything. Once another professional puts their stamp on a project, Ossining OKs the project and issues the permit.
Solarworks had to renew their local contractors license, so this added more time. Then they found an engineer who (in my opinion) required more than was really necessary to ensure the roof wouldn’t cave in or blow away. He said we had to either support every beam in the roof over eight feet with another beam, or build a wall around all four sides of the attic. This was going to be much more than I bargained for, and I was upset that Solarworks didn’t tell me I might have to reinforce my roof to such an extent. Of course, I think this was a surprise to them as well. Jumping to the end of the story, Solarworks came though with flying colors. They settled everything with the village and the engineer and dealt with any other headaches. The installation was completed in January ’08.
The cost for the entire job was a little over 53,000.00. No we didn’t pay anything near that amount! NY State has incentives in place which covered 23,000.00 right off the bat (http://www.powernaturally.org/Programs/Solar/incentives.asp). Next year we will get 5,000.00 lopped off our state taxes and 2,000.00 off Federal. True, the money is gone, but it went to Solarworks and not to taxes. AND, what we effectively did was to prepay our electric bill (at todays prices) for the next eleven years. NY State has another program, the Energy$mart Loan (http://www.getenergysmart.org/SingleFamilyHomes/ExistingBuilding/HomeOwner.aspx), which buys down the interest rate on loans that pay for renewable energy enhancements. We can get a 20,000.00 loan which will be a fixed payment for 10 years at 1.5 interest, and the payment will only be about what our current electricity bill is now. So the final out-of-pocket expense came down to only 3,000.00! Also, the minute we came online, our panels ended our dependence on conventional electricity (coal, nuclear) and the tremendous environmental costs associated with it. Win win all around!