Does Solar Energy Pay - in Southwest Florida?

If your home is in Southwest Florida - do you wonder if solar energy is a good investment?

There are a number of things to consider including good sunlight, financial incentives, net-metering policies, cost of materials, and high electric rates...

Good sunlight…

We all know that three consecutive days of cloudy, rainy weather in the Sunshine State is rare and when it does occur many of us begin to suffer from light affective disorder (myself included). In fact, the sunlight in our part of Florida is some of the best in the country. According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, Florida has 85% of the maximum solar resource of any location in the country (7.2 kWh/day out of a maximum of 8.5 kWh/day).

Financial incentives…

The federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar systems has had such a big impact on the solar market since 2006 that Congress extended it for 8 years in 2008 and dropped the cap for residential systems. The solar tax credit reduces the retail cost of an installed system by 30% and you receive the credit when you file your taxes (it is not a grant). At the state level, Florida offers rebates for solar electric (PV) and solar hot water.  For residential PV installations the state rebate is $20,000 for up to 5 kilowatts and for commercial PV installations (10 kilowatt or more) investors receive a rebate of $100,000. In addition to rebates and commercial tax credits, commercial customers of a grid-tied PV system are also entitled to five-year, accelerated depreciation for projects completed in 2009. The State of Florida also provides grants from the Governor’s Energy Office for solar water heaters, solar electric systems and solar pool heaters.

Net-metering policies…

Both LCEC and FPL have enacted net-metering policies for grid-tied, PV systems. Under net metering, electric meters turn backwards when PV systems generate electricity in excess of the demand. This means that their customers receive retail prices for the excess electricity they generate. The kilowatt-hours generated are credited to the next bill at retail rate. At the end of a 12-month billing cycle the utility then pays for solar generated electricity at avoided-cost rate.

Cost of materials…

The price of modules have declined sharply this year but according to Solarbuzz (a portal to worldwide solar data) the trend downward has slowed. The demand for photovoltaic modules was high in 2008 so manufacturers increased production. Then the global recession hit the solar industry so in the beginning of 2009 there were plenty of modules on the market which resulted in lower prices. Just remember when you are comparing prices of modules that brand, technical attributes, and certifications do matter.

High electric rates…

Nationwide, electricity rates have increased an average of 4.4% per year over the past 35 years, twice that rate in some parts of the country.  The energy from the sun is free so rates will never increase!

An analysis of the factors influencing an investment in solar reveals that solar energy does pay in Southwest Florida.

It makes economic sense for many but only a hard look at the numbers and a physical analysis of the property will tell if it makes sense for you.

Be sure to visit our web site at www.FafcoSolar.com to learn more about the all of the Solar Energy products available to you.
  

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