Saturday, July 09, 2011

Jay Hancock: Discount solar energy closer to reality

Saturday, July 09, 2011

How many people concerned about the environment thought Kirk Thomas of cut through its use of fossil fuels generate electricity with roof solar panels.

But the Bel Air seller says, that he not thousands of dollars sitting around, have to pay for the hardware and installation. And even if he took a loan, he knew that it reflects years before making the savings by producing its own - in a much smaller BGE Bill - would cover the cost.

Next month, the Thomas household to install of a solar array for no money down but expected. They are leasing. And also including the monthly rent payments, Thomas expects to see immediate savings on his power.

State subsidies, falling equipment prices, interest rates double filter and now financing by companies like Google meet an environmentalists dream, this is almost as old as Earth Day: solar power, which is more or less as cheap as the old-fashioned way.

A few weeks, Google said it would offer installation by Thomas unit, $280 million in funding for roof solar array to a team with solar city, the California based company. Solar city and competitors such as Sungevity are also traditional financiers such as banks, offers support tap.

"It seems very positive, and the demand is actually speeding up," says Pierre Bull, an energy policy analyst at the natural resources Defense Council in New York City. Solar leasing "had in California for a few years go on." Well, he said, "it has reached in particular more East Coast States."

In January, solar city bought solar array installation Division of Rockville-based clean stream, provide renewable electricity to businesses and residences. Solar city has about 100 leasing offers with families as the signed Thomassen and is aimed at increasing his Maryland staff of 25 to 40 by the end of the year, said operations Lee Keshishian, Director of the mid-Atlantic.

Turn the rays of the sun into electricity possible for decades with silicon wafers. But for a long time the systems were economically inefficient. It took many more dollars one kilowatt of solar electricity over a certain period of time than a kilowatt coal-fired electricity produce.

Then there was the cost in advance. Generation companies can numbers, as they burn it for their coal. But with solar, you are basically buy three decades worth of electricity - that is, how long the units most recently - in advance. If you could afford?

Gradually, but costs fell and Silicon was more productive. Have costs for photovoltaic-modules of 15 to 20 percent per year since 2008, Bull said please. Not long ago, a roof array for a typical house costs $30.000. now is towards $10,000 settlement.

Grants from the Maryland energy administration, who have criticized features NRDC's Bull establishing of the State of solar power said, you cut the costs even more. (The grants an average of $3,000 per household, as Administration spokesman Ian Hines.) So do the federal tax credits of 30% on equipment and installation.

And now is solar financing companies. It's like a car leasing. You must have a good credit rating. Get possession of the hardware, but the leasing company owns it. You decide how large a down payment to make.

You make monthly payments. Thomas is $117, but as the most solar leases, the rise of between 3 and 4 percent per year over the 20-year term of the transaction. Solar city says this is probably less than how much average electricity prices will rise over the same period. Thomas thinks that the company is right.

The larger the down payment, the lower cost the monthly rent. Thomas is 0 (zero) setting. Nevertheless, he expects to save gas & electrical factors as $50 per month initially, as soon as he in the lease payments and its lower Bill from Baltimore.

The current that Thomassen roof will help make their air conditioning and other devices, reduce what they need to buy the utility. The Thomassen use a relatively large amount of electricity, thanks to her four children. Thomas was attracted by the idea of solar energy, because it is clean, renewable and contribute to global warming.

But "The cost in advance was so much," he said. "It's such a great investment and pay for the period is a long time."

Most people don't need systems as great as the Thomassen. A lease for a typical family NULL Prostavlenie around $50 per month, says solar city. The typical net savings per month, is anywhere from zero to $20, depending on factors such as the House orientation to the Sun or whether it uses electric heat.

Solar leasing is not for everyone. For people who can buy a system with the money coming, should the savings for families as the much larger Thomassen.

Buyer have to pay not finance. You have a 3 to 4 per cent annual escalator clause not on a monthly payment. Cash buyers can take advantage of Government grants and federal tax credits. (The leasing company holds these incentives generally.)

But for the leasing-minded, the BGE replace dirty coal generated kilowatt with clean Sun power for no money down and no significant difference in monthly cost is a lot for them, the economy and the planet.

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