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How Solar Works
We can change sunlight directly to electricity using solar cells. Every day, light hits your roof’s solar panels with photons (particles of sunlight). The solar panel converts those photons into electrons of direct current (“DC”) electricity. The electrons flow out of the solar panel and into an inverter and other electrical safety devices. The inverter converts that “DC” power (commonly used in batteries) into alternating current or “AC” power. AC power is the kind of electrical that your television, computer, and toasters use when plugged into the wall outlet.
A net energy meter keeps track of the all the power your solar system produces. Any solar energy that you do not use simultaneous with production will go back into the electrical grid through the meter. At night or on cloudy days, when your system is not producing more than your building needs, you will consume electricity from the grid as normal. Your utility will bill you for the “net” consumption for any given billing period and provide you with a dollar credit for any excess during a given period. You can carry your bill credit forward for up to a year.
Why Go Solar?
Control your monthly electricity costs as utility rates increase by as much as 6% a year. Potentially lower your monthly electric or gas bill by making a well-informed choice to use solar energy as your primary source of power or hot water generation. Solar finance experts suggest that every 1,000 Watts of power from a PV (photovoltaic) panel adds $5,000 to the resale value of a home. Solar panels require little or no upkeep, rarely break or wear out, and can last for up to 25 years, providing you with clean, consistent energy. With energy costs rising, there has never been a better time to consider renewable energy.
Enjoy the independence of owning and controlling an electric power source located right at your home. No more utility rate increases, no more spikes in electricity rate charges during peak loads. Solar energy reduces our nation’s reliance on imported oil. It also allows communities and homes to generate their own decentralized power, making it more difficult for terrorists or natural disasters to disrupt the flow of electricity. It also reduces demand on the nation’s strained electricity grid and decreases the need to build expensive new power plants.
One of the less-heralded advantages of solar power is that it proves again and again to be a great investment. Calculations will typically show a modest 3-4% return over the first year. But when projected utility rate hikes are applied to the equation, the 25-year forecasted pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) in most cases averages 10-25%. That’s far better than the stock, bond and money markets or long-term CDs. And far safer too, since no one expects utility rates to decrease.
Your investment in solar energy supports American workers who live in our cities and towns building, designing and installing our systems. Roughly 60,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The organization predicts that by 2016, the boom in demand for residential and commercial solar installations will add hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs in research and development, manufacturing, construction, sales and marketing, and related fields. Solar energy projects also boost local tax revenues.
Investing in solar energy reduces your carbon footprint and directly promotes the use of sustainable energy with no emissions or harmful side effects. That’s great for your kids and theirs. Pollution from existing power plants contributes to more than 600,000 asthma attacks each year. Increasing energy efficiency and our use of renewable energy takes dangerous pollutants out of the air and lets us all breathe a little easier.