1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Solar City

Post in 'The Green Room' started by charly, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. charly

    charly Guest

    Good or bad? 20 year lease,, fixed rates.. Would like to know more about down side from anyone.. MY system from them would be worth 47,000 dollars.. After leasing for 20 years it would be a 25,000 dollar savings... So if you owned,, you would have never even broke even... Just deciding what to do or just not even get involved.. Selling your home I was told the new buyer just pays the utility bill as I would now... I would still have a meter charge to pay as well.. I would get a State tax rebate good for 3 years for 5000 dollars.. Too good to be true? I know they are making money with the power produced as well.. Thanks for any feed back.. Just don't want to make a big mistake...I know a bail out would be costly for them to take the system down..

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Where2

    Where2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
    Messages:
    138
    Loc:
    South Florida
    In my personal opinion, I will NEVER let someone collect sunshine on my property without them paying me royalties. I wouldn't let them log for firewood, drill for oil, or grow crops without paying me a little something.

    Look into the concept of "Microinverters". You don't have to start with a $47k system on day one. You just need to plan for future expansion. I'm currently installing a 4400W setup on my roof, complete with all the permits, NEC 2011 compliance, and the structural engineering necessary to keep it on my roof with a three second 170mph wind gust. When I say "currently installing", I mean that I've had one round of in-progress structural and electrical inspections by my local AHJ, and that my plans this weekend include installing the trunk cable on the mounting rails that I finished installing on my roof last weekend.

    For my system, panels and inverters (combined) cost me ~$1.60/W. Since I live in South Florida, the expense of my rack system is much higher than it would be for anywhere else. My Rack is currently close to $1.25/W. My rack has 102 mounting brackets to attach the rails to the roof. The structural engineering and permit fees alone were ~$0.26/W.

    My system is 100% designed by me, permitted by me, purchased by me, and installed by me. It uses commonly accepted name brand parts for the PV panels, microinverters, mounting rails, electrical components and wiring. My electrical panel of choice is a Square D, QO 100A sub-panel for combining the two 220V solar circuits. The solar combiner panel drops into a 30A double pole breaker in my existing Square D, Homeline Service Entrance panel.

    Most Solar City leases I have seen described on other forums indicate that Solar City's increase in rates is projected to stay below the customary increase in rates granted to the local POCO over the last 5-10 years. As the owner of my system, every time the POCO raises their rates between my installation completion date and the date the last device fails will simply accelerate the payback on my system. When a reasonable market becomes available for renewable energy credits (REC's), I'll sell them too, to accelerate my payback.
  3. charly

    charly Guest

    I'm not getting involved with Solar City... Once I started asking questions I found out that it wasn't the great deal they were making it seem to be.. For example,,, I said what if 2 years into the lease I decide the solar package lease is not working out as well as I thought,, what is the penalty for wanting out? The guy said once you sign the lease they're your panels,, you want out you have to pay the whole 47 thousand dollars in reduced payments or buy it outright! NO THANKS! I wonder how many people signed on without realizing that? Our bills are just over 100 - 140 dollars a month,,, not really worth it in my eye's.. Plus I'm heading to 59 this week... I could be dead before I ever see a pay back on something;lol
  4. Where2

    Where2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
    Messages:
    138
    Loc:
    South Florida
    You are not alone. My father, at age 70+, has also indicated he would not consider solar due to his age. His father lived to be 98, so technically, he might. If I could do it legally, I'd set up a grid-tie, ground mount, PV system on my father's property, and sell him every kWh it generated at a discounted rate over what the local utility charges. Unfortunately, the utility doesn't like competition in my state, and forbids this practice. When my parents pass away, I'd simply move the PV system to some other property I own... The PV system should still have plenty of useful life expectancy in 7-15 years.
  5. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I looked into Solar City about a year ago and backed away from it. It seemed like a good idea, but... if you do a google search you will find all kinds of issues with Solar City sales, installations and billing. Some are about poor quality installs (leaky roofs after racks installed, defective panels or inverters, or panels that were positioned poorly or wrong). Some have issues with strong arm sales methods and bad energy audits. Some others have issues with maintenance or long delays with installing, or issues with the lease terms and billing. Also Solar City will not upgrade the system over the course of the lease. Generally Solar City gets all the tax and utility rebates for the installation. Also they have several teaser rates plans where the lease rates go up significantly over time. Also the lease with Solar City is conveyed with the sale of any home. So in some cases it may lower the value of your home, detract buyers, or the buyers may insist that you pay off the lease in the sale.

    Several things against going solar where I live are that electricity rates are rather low here, 10 cents a KwHr. Another is that his area west of the Cascases in the PNW is not very good for solar applications with many overcast days. Also we are at a higher latitude. In places like California where electric rates are higher and there are far more sunny and clear days, it may make a lot more sense. In general PV panels degrade over time, and produce less energy as they get older. Some lower quality panels may degrade as much as 50% over the life of the panels, but usually there is about a 0.5 to 1% degradation per year after an initial drop of 2-3%.
    charly likes this.
  6. charly

    charly Guest

    Yes I read the same reports about Solar City......... No Thanks, at 7.9 cents a KWH my bills don't really warrant solar , at least no at my age and the investment needed...
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,954
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
  8. charly

    charly Guest

    Actually it will cost me nothing ,,, just pay them every month for their system like paying your electric bill. They have two rates, one it goes up every year by a low percentage and one stays fixed but you pay more.. If I put down 2500 dollars I could have a fixed power bill of 103 dollars for 20 years... Just worried about much better technology coming ..then your stuck with a dinosaur after 10 years.
    StihlHead likes this.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,954
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I was thinking about an outright purchase. It will never be a dinosaur. There may be more efficient panels in 10 yrs or maybe not, but that will be 10 yrs of production missed. Regardless, those 10 yr old panels will still be producing.
  10. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Perhaps you missed the part about his age, and his cheap electric rates? And the need to outlay cash for a solar system, regardless of the rebates and tax incentives, and payback can be rather slow over the life of the system.

    In my case, I spend about $75 a month on electricity. $900 a year. The average PV solar system on Oregon is 3 Kw and costs about $21,000. Say I get half that back in BS rebates and tax deductions. So it would cost me about $10,500. The system would 'pay' me about $300 a year in reduced energy rates (average here is $100 a year per 1 KwHr of PV panels). That means I will not break even until after 35 years. So for me, buying a PV system simply is not worth it. And this is at 10 cents a KwHr. In NY its even less. I could also lease a system in an Oregon plan and pay zero for it, and pay them the same rate as I do to PGE, but I would have to deal with collectors, the install, permits, and maintenance issues. Again, not worth it.
    charly likes this.
  11. charly

    charly Guest

    Solar City figured my system to cost 47, 000 dollars... After 20 years I would have only paid for half of it..with my utility payments.. Not even close to being worth it... I just locked in for a year at my 7.9 cents per KWH.. I think 10 years from now there will be lots of people who are not happy that they leased a solar system for 20 years... I just think there will be better alternatives coming..
  12. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,103
    Loc:
    Salisbury, MD
    Are you getting this installed on a metal roof or are you having 30 year shingles put on before the install?
    Wildo likes this.
  13. charly

    charly Guest

    No, not getting anything at all,,, not worth it..my rates are too low.. I'd post mount something... Why pay more money to have to install a new roof so nothing will have to be touched? My home is paid for,,, I lease a 20 year Solar system on my roof,,, my homes not paid for anymore.. Took too long to get to this point, not giving up now..
    StihlHead likes this.
  14. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Yah, that is another hidden cost and issue of most solar PV systems. A new 30 year composition roof is really expensive and anything mounted on the roof is likely to lead to leaks over time. I have fixed many roof leaks with solar systems on them. I have a metal roof on purlins over composition, not suitable for solar collectors. I have the room to put collectors on posts on the property here, which is what I would do with them. And like your house, mine is paid for after a lifetime of mortgage payments and several careers. I still have to pay property taxes and that is enough "rent" for me. Heck, the county tax collector would see the electrical permits and jack up the property value based on the PV system and I would have to pay more property tax. They assessed a 35 grand increase in property value on my garage remodel and sunroom permit application last year. So I cancelled my permits and converted them to 'accessory buildings', and thus they are legal non-permit structures so they incur no increased tax 'value'.

    There are so many pitfalls to doing anything with any property. The greedy bastards are all over the place, drilling holes into our wallets.
    charly likes this.
  15. charly

    charly Guest

    Same thing here,,,,, just raised our assessment 100,000,,, property taxes went up 4000 dollars over night! BS! Some people here are losing their farms, as they can't keep up with the cost of living.... Dairy farmer down the road was going to down size a little, now he has to get more cows to just stay where he was a few years ago..Kind of scarey! Supposedly ours rate might go down a little because they are going to assess a 1500 sq ft home the same as if it's in mint shape or a dump... Before people were leaving their homes a mess and unpainted because they didn't want their taxes going up.. Not fair to the people who take care of their place.. I have to look into my out buildings as I was told there's a tax exemption as long as they house something that is used to maintain the farm.. Yup,,, they're going to tax America to death! I'll have to look into the Accessory Buildings thing for here..
    StihlHead likes this.
  16. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    They used to do that here. Guys would run around and look at your house and property every 5 years, and it would be reassessed. People kept their places looking like dumps to downgrade the tax levied. People were also being taxed off their property right and left. In California they passed a law limiting taxes to 1% based on the price you pay for a house (or assessed value if it is a foreclosure) and they can only go up 1% a year. In Oregon they passed a similar law, but regardless of sale price, the property taxes can only go up 3% a year from the original assessment made at some point, or from the new value assessed when it is built.

    None of this has not stopped them from passing and endless stream of local property taxes, school bonds and levies in both states after they raid the school funds for other stuff at the state and county level. Half my property tax here is for bonds. Every year they want more bond money. That also does not prevent them from taxing any additional building, property improvement or remodeling, and they tax that at a new appraisal price along with the old tax value.
  17. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Looks like you have similar laws for non-permit accessory buildings there as here, except we can build up to 200 sq. ft. and you are limited to 144 sq ft. O/w they are pretty much the same, have to be built to code (but are not inspected) and they have to adhere to fire codes. They can be attached to the house and be cabanas from the look of it. I could easily live in a 10x14 'playhouse' or 'store room' myself. ;) Mind you we do not have annual property inspectors here any more, but they do use areal photos to check up on non-permit building here.

    http://www.dos.ny.gov/DCEA/pdf/TB_AccessoryStruct.pdf

    .
  18. charly

    charly Guest

    I'd love to live in a small off the grid cabin... Have the perfect spot at the top half of my property, spring fed pond for water, view and Southern exposure.. Sell the farmhouse and put money in the bank plus pay cash for the off the grid cabin, only owe the tax man yet<> And the storage battery man once every 10 years.
  19. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I sold my small termite riddled tract home in California on a small lot in a crappy rental hood and bought a foreclosure here on acreage for 1/10th the sale price. I have a dubba Wyde here, but its sheet rocked and has nice floors, and I am semi off-grid with wood only heat (60% of the energy I use here) and electricity. No water, garbage, or sewer bills, I have my own well and septic system. No phone or Cable TV lines out here either. It is a ways from the city but the international airport is less than an hour away. I cannot split this place up though. OR has laws against dividing any lots or developing outside the 'green lines' around the incorporated cities and towns. Anything inside the line has to be developed to the maximum, or left as is or replaced one for one. Anything outside cannot be developed at all, but can be replaced one for one. Existing houses like this can be replaced with a modest home or a McMansion, re-assessed for higher taxes when the permits are completed of course. For good or bad, at least this way they cannot force me to hook up to a sewer because of development (upwards of 30 grand here + a sewer bill every month + higher prop. taxes because of the pricey sewer hookup :eek:). Also there are no housing tracts going in across the highway or adjacent to my property, as there would be out here in CA or WA states. Of course if they developed, I would also develop and move even father out. I am surrounded by national forest, a tree farm, and several pastures: one has cows on it now, another has three goats and a pony, another has horses and one is always empty.

    We have gotten a tad off track here... I forget what this thread was about. PV solar systems? Oh yah, off grid they make a lot more sense. Compared to brining in electricity and transformers over any distance, which is a small fortune, a PV system would be fine. The payoff would be pretty quick compared to hard wire electric install costs and metered rates. Though the big solar rebates and tax breaks all usually only come with systems that are installed on grid, and you sell the excess to the utility via a 2 way metering system.
    charly likes this.
  20. charly

    charly Guest

    Sounds like your pretty comfortable ;) Yup we get our water by gravity feed from a spring fed pond... Nice , no electric bill to run a pump.. We have all good water pressure even up on the second floor.. We filter the water we drink through a Berkey water filter system.. so in the winter , someone attacks our national grid system we could survive all winter having water to wash with and flush our toilets,, we have a septic system and we would have wood heat to stay warm and also have a Esse wood cook stove... Self sufficient pretty much in that scenario.. Pond has been here for over 40-50 years and use to also water like 60 cows everyday long before we came here and the neighbor said they never ran the spring fed pond out of water..
  21. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    My ex has several spring boxes on her property that have great water and water pressure. Soft water, not like the rock hard well water that she has there. I liked that spring box system that the previous owners had installed. though in summer it spritzed out after an hour or so of watering my one acre "garden" there. I was a good amount of head there so I was going to set it up to also run a pelton wheel and generate electricity (if we had not broken up). My land is on a gradual slope here, no ponds or springs. The well water is really good quality though, and I have good pressure. Wells in rural Oregon are typically low flow and good ones are hard to come by. My one stipulation to buying this place, as dilapidated as it was, was that the well had to have good quality and pressure. The bank balked at that, but it is a state law to test any well on property that is sold, so they had it tested. The guy that tested it fixed the well pump and flagged the pressure tank as having a leak. I replaced the tank after I bought it, but otherwise the well has worked flawlessly (crossing fingers, knocking on wood).
    charly likes this.

Share This Page