For decades, there has been discussion in the media about installing solar panels on our rooftops. However, until recently, few homeowners actually installed them — only those with extraordinary enthusiasm and concern about the environment. The reason — the cost of solar panels upfront, between $10,000 to $60,000.
The hope was that solar panel costs would gradually come down to within an affordable range for the average homeowner. While the costs have gradually declined over the years, they have not yet become widely affordable.
However, a whole new business model has changed all that. A number of companies now install solar panels on the home’s roof for free, and the homeowner pays a monthly lease fee. The homeowners use the solar power generated to reduce their reliance on the electrical utility company. The lease payment plus the reduced electrical utility bill, when combined, are usually less than the homeowner’s monthly electric bill had been pre-solar. So, the homeowner has no upfront costs plus has a reduced electric monthly bill.
Commercial Solar Panels
Businesses can take advantage of a similar type of solar panel installation plan. Solar companies offer businesses a Power Purchase Agreement instead of a lease. The solar company installs the panels with no upfront investment by the business. Rockwall Texas The panels may be installed on the roof, or if there’s space, in a ground-mounted array.
The business pays the solar installer a fixed rate for the solar power that it uses. This reduces the amount of electricity that the business must draw from the electric utility. Usually the business customer experiences a reduced total electric bill, even with the payment it makes to the solar installation company for solar electricity.
Businesses experience reduced monthly electric bills and protection from volatility in electric utility rates going forward. The solar electric rate is fixed, and experiences no volatility. Reduced rate volatility can be particularly helpful when planning profitable operations.
Reliability of Solar Power
Once the cost of solar panels is no longer a factor, people often bring up worries about reliability of solar power generation. What happens at night or if it rains? In the past, many thought that people would generate electricity with solar panels and, on sunny days, store the excess in batteries to use at night or on overcast days.
However, the current business model is different. Your home or business remains hooked up the utility company’s electrical grid. At night or on overcast days or anytime that your solar power generation is insufficient for your needs, you draw electricity from the electric grid. This happens automatically and takes no effort on your part.
Then, is the excess solar power of sunny days wasted? No. You profit by an automatic system that sells your excess solar power back into the electrical grid. Your utility company credits you with the sale by winding the readings on your electric meter backwards. You can actually watch it spinning backwards!
Benefit to the Environment
With this new business model, homeowners and businesses can save money by installing solar panels while retaining a reliable supply of electricity. In addition, they can do what many of us have looked forward to ever since we heard about generating solar power on our rooftops — help the environment.
Solar energy, of course, creates no pollution. Every kilowatt that we generate with our solar panels is one less kilowatt that power companies must generate by burning fossil fuels. Actually, one kilowatt generated by solar panels replaces even more than one kilowatt generated by power companies, as, with rooftop solar panels, there are virtually no losses of power due to electric line transmission over long distances.
Replacing fossil fuels for generating electricity creates numerous benefits for the environment. The mining of coal, oil, and gas all harm the environment. Transmission of fossil fuels by pipeline (with possible leaks), or trucks (with resulting air pollution) also harm the environment. Of course, burning these fuels for electrical power, even when burning relatively clean natural gas, also adds pollutants to the atmosphere.
Dependence on foreign oil has major consequences for our economy when conflict in the Middle East erupts. Interruptions in the oil supply raise gasoline and home heating prices and harm our economy. Our dependence on foreign oil also constrains our foreign policy options. Some believe that this has gotten us into wars that we, otherwise, might not have fought. Addiction to foreign oil has been costly to Americans in many ways.
We are currently making good progress in becoming independent of foreign oil. Domestic oil production has increased, energy efficiency measures are working better — including tougher auto gas mileage standards — and sources of clean, green energy are coming on-line. When commercial and home solar panels are installed, they are contributing to our clean, green energy future.
As many people are concerned about our environment and dependence on foreign oil, when one homeowner installs solar panels on their roof, neighbors often follow suit. Seeing that solar panels are for-real and are now affordable in their own neighborhood, they go ahead with what has seemed like a dream for so long — generating our own electricity on our own rooftops.