The truth about solar energy and why it makes cents
Submitted by REC Solar
More than 5,000 solar electric systems are currently installed nationwide, and about six more are installed daily. If you’re thinking about switching to solar but have some hesitation, read answers to some of the most commonly heard myths about solar energy and its benefits.
Myth No. 1 – Solar is too expensive
Solar is more affordable than ever. Government incentives covering up to 65 percent of system costs, new financing options requiring $0 down and increasing electric utility rates make solar energy appear affordable. Upfront solar electric system costs have decreased during the last few years. A solar lease option, known as a power purchase agreement (PPA), reduces upfront costs to as little as $500. As part of the agreement, the solar vendor owns and operates the system while charging a single, fixed monthly fee. The PPA option includes installation, insurance, monitoring, maintenance and repairs and a smaller monthly electric bill. The higher the upfront amount paid, the lower your monthly utility bills.
Myth No. 2 – It takes too long to see a return on investment in solar
Most residential and commercial solar projects pay for themselves in the first several years of investment or immediately with a PPA. Installations typically achieve internal rates of return between 8 to 12 percent or more. In today's investment climate, that makes solar a very attractive use of capital for residents, businesses and investors alike. Electricity rates have increased an average of 6 percent every year in the last five years, according to the U.S. Energy Administration's most recent Energy Perspective Report. Government incentives that offset your cost are declining every year as the industry moves to grid parity. Waiting will likely increase your opportunity cost.
Myth No. 3 – Technology changes quickly, so we should wait
Solar technology is a stable technology. Though many technology products evolve overnight, solar technology has been effective and efficient for decades. While the industry is experiencing an explosion in popularity, the technology remains consistent and dependable. Some older technologies are, in many instances, more reliable than newer technologies. Reliability is very important to recognizing a good return on your investment. Waiting to invest in solar energy will only increase the risk of missing out on current government rebates and incentives that could cover as much as 65 percent of your system cost.
Myth No. 4 – Solar panels are ugly
How do power lines or power plants look? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Slim, attractive, solar modules are often hidden from view upon a rooftop, produce clean energy that yields no harmful byproducts and pays you back year after year.
Myth No. 5 – Solar power is more expensive than fossil fuels like coal or oil
While lawyers and insurance companies debate the cost of accidents like the Gulf Oil Spill, the general public can't help but increasingly realize the total cost of oil is expensive. People are often in the dark about oil and gas subsidies. According to recent public opinion data from Gotham Research, 19 percent of those surveyed correctly estimated that the fossil fuel industry gets more than $10 billion in subsidies. Solar offers a harmless operation for the immediate environment – no noise, movement, smoke, dust, waste or any kind of physical risk. The potential for solar energy generation is virtually unlimited. Burning oil and coal are very effective ways to produce energy, but hidden costs and limits have major economic implications for us all.
Myth No. 6 – Solar won’t scale to meet the needs of our economy
While we don't expect solar to replace fossil fuels, there's no doubt it will play a critical role in meeting overall energy demand. Solar is growing rapidly in size and number of installations nationwide. The most important paradigm shift today is a shift away from the need for custom engineering. Rather than engineering individual projects, residential and small commercial solar projects are increasingly pre-configured.
Myth No. 7 – Solar won’t last
Americans want solar to last. In fact, according to Gotham Research, 80 percent of Americans rated solar power favorably, compared to 39 percent for nuclear and 32 percent for oil.
REC Solar, Inc. specializes in grid-tied solar electric design and installation, offers the latest technology, state of the art equipment and financing opportunities for all commercial and residential customers. REC Solar was a 2010 Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner.
As of June 21, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.