Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Increasing the use of solar energy in Cheshire (2 of 3)

As I mentioned in my previous post, Connecticut faces some serious electricity problems.  This is due to our reliance on centralized generation (CG).  An alternative to the CG -- typically provided by nuclear, natural gas and coal-fired power plants -- is distributed generation (DG).

Probably the most common existing form of DG is a household generator.  (I quickly found a 4 kW generator online for $400, while a 7 kW generator is listed at $900.  Installation by an electrician may run the cost up to $2,000.)

Another -- and increasingly popular -- form of DG is solar electricity.  It's also known as a photovoltaic array or PV.  Solar electric is the cause of the Solarize CT campaign.  And it's the Solarize CT campaign that I hope to bring to Cheshire as Solarize Cheshire!

Why undertake a campaign?  Why bother?

The Solarize campaign concept began in Massachusetts and had demonstrable results.  So the State of CT decided to undertake a similar campaign to increase the use of solar electric in The Land of Steady Habits.

Thus far, the campaign has existed in three outreach phases:

- Phase 1 occurred from Sept 2012 to Jan 2013.

- Phase 2 is ongoing, beginning around April 2013 with a scheduled completion of July 2013.

- Phase 3 has not yet begun, though the State's RFP was issued about three weeks ago with a July 12th deadline... and the campaign to be undertaken from Sept 2013 to Jan 2014.

It's the current RFP of Phase 3 that has my interest because the program has shown clear results.

Not only has the program reduced the cost of solar by about $8,000 / home, it's also increased the number of homes getting solar electric installed by ten-fold.  That means more local jobs, rather than jobs in CG plants that will probably be both distant and have negative impacts on the environment.

$8,000 is a lot of money.  How do I get that savings?

A typical CT home buys about 7.1kW of solar electric.  Of CT's 169 towns, four participated in Solarize Phase 1.  Within those four towns, the average cost of one kW was about $3,800.  Within the other 165 towns, the average cost of one kW was about $4,900.

So instead of paying about $35,000 for your solar electric installation, you pay about $27,000.  And yes, at $27,000, the economics make sense.  Just consider what you pay for your monthly electric bill.

$27,000 is a lot of money.  How does that help me?

You probably pay around $100/mo to CL&P.  That translates to about $1200/yr.  And with an estimated 25 year life for solar electric panels, you'd get a payback at around 22 years.  But that's not accounting for benefits like the 30% federal income tax credit that you can take.

More on the numbers later.  I'll leave it here for now and try to elaborate further this weekend.

Tim White


Ontario PV products said...

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Ima said...

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