Please indulge a momentary break from the literary. Two readers have asked what, specifically, was so compelling about the economics of our solar panels. For some reason, the solar industry has not made clear to the public that anyone with a south-facing roof should seriously consider an array:
Our $19,000 up-front cost was diminished by the following:
1. The local utility had to purchase out 2.75 kilowatt capacity from us for nearly $1,000/kilowatt, thus a payment of $2,600;
2. The State of NC provides tax a CREDIT of 35%, thus a refund of $6,650;
3. The Federal government provides a tax CREDIT of 30%, thus a refund of $5,700.
As a result of the foregoing, our out-of-pocket cost was barely above $4,000. We are saving $50-$70 each month on our electric bill, so we will have paid for the entire system in about 4-5 years. And it seems logical that we have enhanced the resale value of our home by more than $4,000 given the low utility bills we will be able to show. The fact that we feel good about producing nearly half our own electricity and are doing something for the environment are additional advantages.  People with a Dick Cheney-like view of the world won’t understand.
The tax credit structure is intact at least through 2015. Each state is different. Some are more favorable than NC (NJ is famously good) and some are less.
A reader inquired if it would pay to wait another year or two for the price of panels to become lower.  that’s a logical question BUT the panels were only about $3,300 of our $19,000 cost. The rest went to design, labor, non-panel hardware and profit. Therefore, I wouldn’t wait since the tax credits are endangered these days AND while the cost of the panels may drop, the other cost components are more likely to rise. Meanwhile, one is not saving that $50-$70/month.
Please contact me with any other questions.