Questions to ask before taking the plunge
By Jennah Denney, Contributing Columnist
With most residential solar systems being installed and electrically interconnected with your electric provider, your local electric cooperative should top your list of project contacts when considering such a purchase. Virginia’s and Maryland’s electric cooperatives are well-versed in both the pros and cons of solar installations. They can help you make an informed decision and navigate the interconnection process (to connect your system to the electric grid). Your electric cooperative likely has a specific process by which planned solar arrays are approved prior to installation and inspected afterward.
For many homeowners, solar installations are considered an investment. As with any investment, you need a clear understanding of your final investment costs, the annual energy production to be expected along with its corresponding value, and the ability to determine how long it will take before you achieve a return on your investment.
Many solar installers provide quotes using national averages for energy prices to calculate your annual savings. These calculations can be wildly inaccurate as energy price ranges vary considerably across the country. The assumption for increases in energy prices over the lifespan of your solar array can’t be ignored, but is often calculated at a rate that is higher than that experienced over the last 15-30 years.
If you’re considering solar for your home, use the questions and considerations below to help guide your decision before entering into a contract with a solar vendor.
Jennah Denney writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.