Can I save money by installing a solar energy system?
This question is being asked more and more as members look for ways to reduce energy costs. The answer is maybe, depending on many factors, and how fast you want to see a return on your investment.
Start with energy efficiency
Before installing a solar energy system, consider reducing your energy use by making your home more energy efficient. Many energy efficiency measures have a faster return on investment, and the initial investment is less than that of a renewable energy system. Central has several energy efficiency rebates as well, visit the rebates page.
Is solar energy right for me?
If you have made your home as energy efficient as possible and now want to install a solar energy system, contact Central in the initial planning stages. Conduct thorough research on all aspects of any system before making the investment. Determine what your goal of the system is. For example, do you want to install solar energy because you believe it is the right thing to do? Or are you looking to save money? If you want to save money, carefully examine all the financial considerations first.
When evaluating the potential of installing a solar electric system at a home or business, considerations should include:
1. Solar access: Oklahoma is fairly good in comparison to other parts of the country. Site specific access depends on installing the system so it is not shaded. See your location on the map for average output.
2. Retail cost of residential electricity: Oklahoma is low in comparison to many other parts of the country. A lower electric rate makes the return on investment length longer than a higher electric rate.
3. Available incentives: Solar energy systems may qualify for a federal tax credit of 30 percent until 2019, 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.
4. The total cost of the system: The average installed cost of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) is $2.89/watt, or $28,900 for a 10-kilowatt grid tie-in system.1 In addition, there may be other costs to consider, such as liability, homeowners’ insurance and property taxes.
Given the information listed above, evaluate your situation to ensure installing a solar system makes sense financially for you.
1Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2018 Q3
Oklahoma's Photovoltaic Solar Resource
This map is measured in kilowatt-hours per square meter per day (kWh/m2/day), which represents insolation, the total energy on a surface over a specific time interval. Examples use the location’s solar resource to determine average output and savings per year, and were calculated using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PV Watts calculator using the default settings, including inverter efficiency of 96 percent. For more information, visit pvwatts.nrel.gov.
Your output may vary depending on site specific factors and regular maintenance such as washing the panels several times per year. Output also may drop about 1 percent per year through the average 20-25 year lifespan of most systems.
Before installing a solar energy system, consider reducing your energy use by making your home more energy efficient. Many efficiency measures have a faster return on investment, and the initial investment is often less. If you decide to install solar, make sure you are aware of all state and federal regulations. Verify the solar system under consideration meets national electrical code. Review all aspects of any system before investing and work with Central throughout the process.
Central can help in the initial planning stages. We can assist you in determining necessary safety equipment required for connecting your system to the grid and provide you with a copy of our cooperative’s policies and metering agreements on solar energy
The average residential system is around 10 kilowatts; however, consider a number of factors when determining size. What parts of your home do you want to run with the system? Does that include air conditioning and heat? What is your average monthly kilowatt-hour usage and how much of that do you want your system to cover? A reputable dealer will be able to provide that information.
A typical individual residential solar panel measures about 18 square feet. An average size installation of a 10-kW array will require about 800 square feet of space, depending on rated wattage and technology. Consider these factors: age of your roof, roof replacement timeline, ability of your roof to support the weight of the panels, amount of shade on your roof, community or subdivision restrictions, etc. Roofs facing south generate maximum wattage.
Do your homework. Check out a list of reputable, long-term providers. Always get references and learn as much as possible about the companies you are considering. Because there are often a variety of systems and payment plans, it is always a good idea to get multiple quotes before choosing a vendor.
Central is more than 99.99 percent reliable. You will be able to rely on your cooperative to back up your solar generator and provide all your electricity needs. Remember, your system will only produce power while the sun shines and the power is on from the cooperative. If you choose to go off the cooperative’s grid and do not install backup storage batteries, you will not have electricity when the sun isn't shining. A backup battery system can easily double the cost of installation and add ongoing maintenance costs, but may offer solutions to preventing loss of power.
If you already have solar installed at your home, please contact a Central Member Solutions Representative by calling 800-375-2884. To ensure the highest of safety standards are met, Central will come out and inspect the installation and work with you on completing the Distributed Generation Interconnection Agreement.