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Solar Panel - Better tax rebate incentive for 2009

Post in 'The Green Room' started by geek, Oct 8, 2008.

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  1. nhimack

    nhimack New Member

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    Sep 25, 2008
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    New Hampshire
    Unless new legislation is passed national and in New Hampshire there is still no great incentive to purchase solr./ I'm still looking/waiting for an installation from www.citizenre.com which is a rental company for solar, they install, maintain and upgrade as needed when the technology changes. I'm locked into the 2005 rate for the state of NH for 25 years for any electricity that the system doesnt make on it's own, any extra and PSNH will have to pay me. Seemed a better way to go since our elected "representatives in all parties just dont get it. An average middle class citizen can not afford to lay out the cash to install solar, i think they like the status quo sometimes

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  2. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Central New York State
    What type of legislation do you regard necessary to make it worth it? Yes, much of it is totally screwed up. Still, I believe it was worth it for me, and my family as is - but it took some work, research, and many arguments with the power company, state officials, and solar installers. Of course, you'd have to define, or put into context, the word "worth." I did it for some degree of self reliance, independence, and security. Also did it here in New York, with the possible plan of taking it all with me if I move up north to a very rural area in Michigan with no grid power at my property. I'm 60 years old, so for me it's a lifetime investment. Only incentive requirement is that it stay here in New York and get used for two years - then I can do whatever I want with it (I've already had it 1 1/2 years).

    In regard to an "average middle class" person cannot afford it? Well, guess the word "average" needs defintion here too. On an income level, if anything, I'm below middle class. Partially crippled from various injuries and half retired. Total income of my wife and I is around $45K - $50K. Raised four kids and have a "new" five year old in the house. We owe zero to anyone or anything. No loans in 30 years. Never flew anywhere in a jet, and never bought a new car. We fix most stuff ourselves. So, to me - paying less than $15K for a solar electric system while I see others borrowing on $50K pickkup trucks or cars - seemed a "drop in the bucket" on the broad spectrum of things.
  3. MrEd

    MrEd New Member

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    Loc:
    Rural New England
    Does anyone know if any of the state (Mass) or federal tax credits are "refundable" tax credits? I don't pay enough in taxes (state or federal) for a reduction of my taxes to do me any good.
  4. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
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    Loc:
    Central New York State
    Nope, but they give you two years to try to claim it. If you can't use it up in two tax returns, you lose it.

    You can read all info at:

    http://www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/map2.cfm?CurrentPageID=1&State=MA&RE=1&EE=1
  5. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    I wish I would have saved the link for you guys, but if I see it again, I'll post it here.

    I've done between $500K and $1M of these things. I've read in the past few days that this must now be included in the budget (i.e. be paid for). No one will be able to claim in until that happens, and they won't pass the budget until '09. I would be very scared of dates, and I would assume they could still change the dates. Check with your suppliers or subcontractors, they should be staying on top of this.
  6. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Orange County NY
    I am also getting a system installed by Akeena solar. I used to use @ 1500Kw per month but through energy conservation (making sure the kids turn off the lights) I brought it down to @ 900 Kw. I am istalling a 4KW system on my roof (hopefully by the end of November if everything goes on schedule). The specs are similar to to the previous posters but I'm getting (23) 175W Andalay panels. The system is costing $30000. The incentives are as follows:

    $15000 NY state rebate
    $5000 Federal Tax Rebate (will not make interconnect until Jan 09)
    $3400 NY State Tax Rebate

    Total Out of Pocket - $6600 after incentives

    My total electric bill per month is @ $250. This system is estimated to address at least 50% of my bill. And before someone states that there is no way I can get these results unterstand the following:

    I have no shade at all and measures in the 99th percentile in regards to being a candidate for solar
    I receive direct sunlight 10 hours a day in the summer and 6 hours a day in the winter
  7. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    99% percentile? How can that be when the southwest is much higher than anywhere in New York?

    That's an awful lot of sunshine for anywhere in New York - but I assume you know your area better than I do. I lived and worked in Orange County for many years - mostly in the 70s. Warwick, Chester, Florida, Middletown, Goshen, and then Wurtsboro - before I moved furhter north. I do remember it being a lot warmer down there - as compared to here in Otsego County. It it wasn't they wouldn't have all those lettuce and onion fields around Chester and Florida.

    Here - my useage at first was around 900 kWH per month. I whittled it down to 250-400 KWH. Then installed 5250 watts of panels - grid-tie and battery backup. No shade here either. In fact, you can't qualify for state incentive money if you do have any substantial shade. Now, on annual average, I make around 400 KWH per month. So, my 5250 watts make 400 KWH per month.
    You are planning on using 25% fewer solar panels and making 12% more electricity with them.
    You'd need roughly twice the sunshine I get here, 130 miles away. I find that doubtful - but hey, if it works, it works. If you've done your own checking, and have looked at verified energy audits from people in your town with solar - good. If you are going by pure data and estimates done by solar installers - I think you might get an unpleasant surprise. Most installers I've met overestimate sunlight just about all the time. Why, I don't know.
    My area - Zip 12197 is rated an annual average of 4.04 KWh per square meter of solar panel per day. Warwick, Orange County NY is rated 4.51 KWh per square meter of solar panel per day. More yes, but not that much more. Many areas in the southwest get over 6 KWh per square meter of panel per day - so I can't figure why anyone told you that your area is in the 99% percentile for solarization.

    One sidenote - are you going to custom-tailor your system so it can be used in a grid-down situation?
  8. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Orange County NY
    You may be right. I have done alot of research and seen many case studies where this is possible. I received site surveys from three different solar installers and they all placed my home in the 99th percentile in regards to being a solar candidate in NY. Once again I don't think it is in comparison to the entire country but more for the state rebate requirements perspective. I do not plan to get a battery backup for my system since I already have a backup generator.
  9. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Central New York State

    I had at least six installers come to my place and give proposals and/or estimates. They all charge for their initial visits - but one that came here was so clueless I refused to pay him anything. He didn't even know the basic principles of electric theory and never heard of Ohm's Law. As to their predicition of sun here - all six were dead wrong. I knew better. I've lived in NY for 40 years. I argued with all of them. They all said a 3200 watt solar array would make all I need. And since incentive money only pays for systems no bigger then 10% annual useage - we were at an empass. When the 7th installer came here, he already knew my thoughts via email. He was new at this business, and more open-minded. He was eager to get some installations under his belt. I have an electricians license, he does not. I knew more about alternative type systems, he did not - and freely admitted it. I convinced both him, and the woman that runs the NY incentive program at NYSERDA (Adele Ferranti) that I needed 5200 watts to break even. They reluctantly agreed, we installed it, and I was dead on. First calendar year we used 5160 KWh or electricity and made 5500 KWh. That's with thirty 175 watt panels. There is nowhere in New York where you're going to make very much power come Jan, Feb, and March. Summertime makes up for it. Only exception is very cold weather and lots of snow cover can make the solar panels overproduce and exceed their normal wattage ratings.

    In regard to my question to you about being able to use your solar when the grid is down. It has nothing to do with having a battery backup - that is something entirely different. I'm talking about a situation when grid is down, the sun is shining - and you want to use your solar panels and inverters. With a normal installation, you cannot - and I find that to be rediulous. All that work and money, equipment installed, and when the power is out you are not allowed to use them? There's a way to work around it, thus my question. In standard form the inverters are programmed never to operate when they cannot sense grid power. So, if the power was out for two weeks, and you had two weeks of sunshine, you'd still have no power with a standard installation. If you care, you need to learn some on your own, or find an installer that really knows something and isn't just installing predesigned kits from Akeena or Sunwize out of Kingston.
  10. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

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    Loc:
    Orange County NY
    I appreicate the information you are giving me. I am not an electrician (even though I have a computer science back ground). I can only go by those that are experienced to tell me. Correct me if I'm wrong but you stated that you utilize 400kw per month and the 5kw system address 100% of your electric needs ad then some. I use twice the amount you use and expect only a 50% savings with a 4kw system which is fine for me. The system is also only costing me @ $7000 after rebate which makes me more comfortable with my selection. As far as battery backup I understand what you mean in regards to the running the systems off the panels if the power company goes offline but for me as long as I have a means to keep my appliances online I am fine with that. I understand that going green is great but to be honest it is the return on investment that is motivating me.
  11. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Loc:
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    I don't want to come across as a "know it all", I am far from it. If you met me face-to-face, it might be easier to tell I'm not that type. Speaking through a keyboard makes a person "hard to read." Just because I'm an experienced electrician, doesn't mean I know anything about solar electric systems. It was a new learning experience for me and I studied many types of systems before spending any money. I've worked as a electrician, housebuilder, diesel mechanic, heavy equipment operator, tree-man, farmer, etc. I've switched around many times in my life because I get bored with anything if I do it too much. Sort of a curse. I have, however, been around enough to realize to always question things and not assume a person with a license, certificate, degree, etc. knows anything useful. Some do, some don't - with and without creditations.

    I'm not picking apart your proposed system either - just offering what I've experienced along with some knowledge you might not be getting from your installers. My personal experience with installers was very frustrating. Most were NOT experienced electricians - yet to get the incentive money you are required to hire them. That makes NO sense to me. A few I met were very knowledgeable and several others only knew enough to read instructions and install a premade kit. I also found with all I met, that they were only interested in the easiest jobs, that installed the fastest, and made them the most profit (parts and labor). From a business sense - that's all fine. But, silly me - I really thought at the outset that some of these guys were doing it partly due to interest in environmental issues. They may be out there, but I haven't met one yet. I will further add that the woman running the New York solar incentive program also is not experienced in solar. She is a bureaucrat transferred from another department.

    My point about your system is - you plan on making more power than my system with less panels. That requires that much more sunlight to do so - and I don't believe there's anywhere in New York that gets that much more - but, I could be wrong. The stats say your area gets around 15-20% more annual sunshine then here - but stats are just a general guideline. New York is full of microclimates.

    In regard to being able to use your panels - regardless of the grid being on or off. That's a big issue to me, but I understand others might not care at all. I installed my system for some level of independence. I also regard it as a lifetime investment. I'm 60 years old, so I'm sure the panels will outlive me. I might move to northern Michigan in an off-grid area and would take the panels and equipment with me. Only requirement in NY after incentive is to keep them here two years - and even that isn't enforced.

    I don't need the panels for backup. I have two large diesel generators, several smaller ones, a 25KW generator that runs off my farm tractor PTO, etc. Even have a generator that will run off of wood-smoke. Also have 1000 gallons of diesel fuel here all the time. But, I knew after studying these systems, that they can be installed and made available to run off grid - with no added expense. So to me, anything otherwise makes no sense. In case we ever have a large-scale National disaster and power is out indefinately, I like knowing I can make my own without fuel. That is, unless it gets siezed for the "greater good", and I'm only half joking. Government guidelines permit FEMA to sieze such things when deemed necessary - during certain types of emergencies.
  12. smangold

    smangold New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
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    58
    Loc:
    Northeast CT hills
    Good info. I have been thinking of Pv for a year now. The current deal has me paying$ 24,000 for a 6.3kw grid tie system. I should get 30% back for my 09 tax year. This would eliminate $90 a month average at today's rate.
    Is now the time to buy? Or should I keep my money under my pillow. They claim I could add batteries later with a charge controller?
  13. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Orange County NY
    I'm not taking it as though you are a know it all. Everyone is entitled to thier opinion. Like I said, I am not trying to save the world I am just trying to save some money and add value at the same time. But I do like the fact that I can save the planet at the same time. I don't know if I made myself clear in my previous statements but I do not want the system to take care of 100 percent of my 900 kw usasage. But I do expect it to handle at least 50 percent of my usage. If it handles more great if not at 50 percent I am very satisfied. That will cut my bill from 250 per month to 125 per month. This brings my ROI on the system in 4.5 years (system cost 7000 after incentives). That gives me an additional 1500 a year.
  14. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Loc:
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    In regard to when is the best time to install? Who the heck knows. My gut-instinct tells me NOW - since all the states and the Feds are having money shortage issues - and it seems if anything, they'll be cutting back on incentives. Even when the economy was good, the trend was to start prrograms high, and then gradually cut back like California did. In most, if not states, the much of the incentive money comes from "socialized billing" by the power companies. They are forced to do it. Everybody pays into the fund, regardless if they like it or not. The rest we are taxed for.

    In regard to having battery backup later? Seems it's will only work if you can keep your total solar-array voltage down to 48 volts or less. Each panel can be 12 volts, 24 volt, and some higher. You determine system voltage by how you wire them - by series, parallel, or a combination. Last I checked, to ever have a battery backup, you must have - a solar array wired for 48 volts or less, inverters that can run at 48 volts if needed, and . . . a 48 volt battery bank (or less). Good batteries are usually 6 volts, and cheaper ones 12. Regardless, you can make the total bank voltage 12, 24, or 48 depending on how you hook the wires.

    In theory, if you've got one of the cheap high-voltage inverters commonly installed in grid-tie - let's say with a 400 volt input minimum. To make it work off of batteries, you'd need over 66 six-volt batteries, or 33 twelve volt batteries at a minimum. You see how that is not feasible. And, even if you had a bank of 33 batteries to make 400 volts, how would you ever charge them? The solar panels can't since the highest rated solar-controller-charger I know of maxes out at 48 volts.

    If you have the option, there is no loss of efficiency by running the solar array at a lower voltage. But, it's extra work to wire, and . . . many installers will only install a "kit' the way it comes. Lower voltage inverters can sometimes cost more, all depends on other factors.
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