Author Topic: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?  (Read 9818 times)

MattinDundee

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Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:10:50 AM »
1st post ever. Be nice!

We're looking at solar for our home and the numbers are phenomenal. We live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon which, unbeknownst to almost everyone, gets more average yearly foot-candle-hours of sun than the town in Germany where all the solar panels are made and baselined. Because solar hasn't caught on up here yet, the local utility, PGE, pays handsome sums to net metering providers (which I hope to become). If I recall correctly, they're subsidized by a state program to do so. Anyway, here are the numbers:

The 10KW system with a 25 year warranty on all components installed is $42,000.
It will make a yearly average of 30kWh/day
PGE will reduce my monthly bill by $0.11/kWh (or an average of about $100/month)
On top of this, PGE will pay me an average monthly cash refund at the rate of $0.39/kWh (or an average of about $351/month).

This scenario results in the system paying itself back in under 8 years - if inflation is zero.

But that's before I factor in the 30% federal tax credit ($12,600) and the $1500 Oregon state credit. Those two items reduce the system cost to $27,900, which results in a payback of just over 5 years.

The contract with PGE is 15 years. The net metering rates I mention above are pegged to PGE's published current rate per kWh. If they charge more, my pay rates go up. If they charge less, my pay rates go down. Electricity rates in my area have averaged 7% inflation over the last 20 years.

Over its 25 year life - even assuming the cash payments disappear at year 15 and we just get the prevailing per/kWh rate as a refund thereafter - this system will pay itself many times over and factoring inflation into the mix, it's even more so.

Any Mustachians have a good argument against doing this? I'm about to pull the trigger.

Thx!

Chris86

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 10:30:47 AM »
A cash refund of .39 per kwh? That seems excessively high...

What about all the access/demand charges? Those typically make up a big portion of the bill also.
We've revised our tariffs in Colorado that say that you will not be 'reimbursed' for more than 120% of what you use.

Just some stuff to think about if you haven't already :)

jscott2135

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 10:45:45 AM »
Hey - A fellow Willamette Valley Mustachian!  I live in Forest Grove OR, so keep us updated, I'd love to know when you pull that trigger and hear an update once installed.  Sounds like it makes sense, but I'm not good with long range projections so I'll let others handle that input.  Gluck

Milspecstache

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 10:58:12 AM »
I looked into solar about 5 years ago so some of my info may be old:

Solar panels lose a portion of their 'effectiveness' each year.  Might be 1-5%. 
Similarly solar panels must be either kept clean or reduced by a percentage to account for dirt/grime.
Solar panels can be easily damaged by hail/falling limbs, etc.

Are you looking at a fixed or tunable system?  If it moves to track then sun then there are more components to break.

In spite of all of these factors you do seem to have a good ROI which would tempt me as well.

GuitarStv

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 11:16:15 AM »
We have solar panels on our roof, feeding back into the grid.  We're doing pretty well so far (we have a guarenteed rate (56 cent/kWh) on solar power through the Ontario microFIT program for the next 20 years).

You will need to get additional insurance for your home (ours amounts to an extra 30$ a year or so) to cover the solar panels.

Check how expensive it will be to remove the panels if/when you need to replace your roof.

Our solar panels are warrantied not to drop below a certain level of effectiveness depending on age.  Check the warranty of the equipment you get for both the panels and inverters.  Our panels are also warrantied against hail smaller than a softball.

As far as equipment goes, I like micoinverters much more than the regular string ones.  If something goes wrong with a microinverter it doesn't affect a whole bunch of panels, just the one it's connected to.  They also perform much better if you have any pipes/chimneys/overhanging trees that might shade a couple panels in a string.


Work out your break even point, figure out how long you plan to be staying where you're currently living (I'm not convinced that having the panels on your house will necessarily be a selling feature, being somewhat of a pessimist).  Also check about tax write-offs for depreciation of equipment (since you're now basically being an energy reseller).  For us it was a no-brainer.

Ayanka

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 11:25:47 AM »
Well solar panels have been subsidized for a couple of years inhere, so there are more of them. Generally they are doing good, although durability on a long term are hard to predict. When it snows or there is a lot of dirt (sand) on them, they don't work indeed. Both of those things are temporarily, because snow melts and rain is enough to clean solar panels (more or less at least).

secondcor521

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 12:45:09 PM »
I looked into it several years ago and it didn't make sense for me here in Boise, but that was because we have very cheap electricity, there wasn't, as far as I knew, net-metering payouts, and I don't remember the federal tax credit being as good as you describe it.  Oh, and we don't get very much sun here, surprisingly.

But it looks like the fed tax credit is there, deductible in the year you install the system.  I'd suggest looking at your tax situation and see if it may make sense to split the install into two phases over two tax years...could make sense based on your tax situation this year and next.

Good luck!

marty998

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 01:10:29 PM »
mmmm...the subsidy in New South Wales was 60c/kwh before "too many" people took advantage of it and (a) drove up the price for all non-solar households and (b) the power companies couldn't justify all their new capex because new coal fired generation plants were no longer needed. Stench of corruption and excessive lobbying by vested interests lingers around the whole saga.

The subsidy has now been cut to around 6c/kwh (below the retail rates) and almost killed off the industry.

To the OP, $40,000 is excessive for a 10kwh system. Prices should have come down, it's not often I say things are cheaper in Australia but a 10kwh system would cost less than half that amount here, before subsidies.

Bad luck you only get an average of 3 hours/day of full sunshine over there too :)

Guardian

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 02:27:40 PM »
Here's a bit of a challenge:

Where is all of your energy currently coming from? I'm talking to all of you.

What are you doing to help push renewable energy? Are you sitting on your ass with a calculator whining about having to clean panels once a month and bad ROI? Think about the world you're leaving to your kids, or even future you.

86,000 TW a day hits the Earth in the form of solar. Get moving

marty998

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 02:35:03 PM »
Agree Guardian,

Cheap electricity generally means cheap and nasty. Just because the power plant or gas rig is located in another pocket of the planet doesn't mean it doesn't exist and doesn't have environmental consequences.

Solar is a no brainer. Shame on governments and administrations that need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century because they are in the pockets of billionaire oil and coal barons.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 04:05:18 PM »
I seriously looked into this about a year ago. Washington has a similar program to what you described with Oregon, with net metering plus a cash incentive on top of that. The incentives seem like they should be pretty attractive for a lot of people. I eventually decided against it for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that my roof may need replacement in the next five years. The panels are labor-intensive (read: expensive) to remove and install, so it's not ideal to install solar panels unless you have quite a bit of life left in your shingles. I'll look into solar again the next time I move and/or replace the shingles.

Also, while western Oregon and Washington do receive about the same amount of sunlight as Germany, we actually receive among the lowest sunlight levels of anywhere in the US. Furthermore, almost all of Seattle's existing electricity comes from hydroelectric dams or other fuel sources that release no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Therefore installing a set of solar panels seems to have a much lower net environmental benefit in my area than pretty much anywhere else in the country.

I would like to have the opportunity to invest some money into green energy production facilities, since I do want to do my part to slow climate change. I unfortunately haven't found a good opportunity to do that yet. Mosaic looks like a promising crowd-funding company devoted to expanding solar power. Unfortunately regulations currently restrict them to accepting investments only from accredited investors and California residents. I am not an accredited investor or a California resident, but those readers who are should check them out.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 04:07:10 PM by seattlecyclone »

nawhite

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 05:59:16 PM »
There aren't many subsidies available anymore in Denver for power you feed back into the grid (< 5 cents / kwh) so I'd only save money on reduced consumption. With 2 people in the house, efficient lights, efficient fridge, air drying clothes, and a house that never needs AC and has no south facing roofs, there is no way we could make a system pay for itself in fewer years than we plan to live in this house (or even 15+ years).

Instead we can simply pay a $0.02/kwh surcharge to get wind/solar power vs coal power. I'm pretty sure its the same program MMM is a part of:

http://www.xcelenergy.com/Save_Money_&_Energy/Residential/Renewable_Energy_Programs/Windsource_for_Residences_-_CO

As for the OP, that sounds like an AMAZING deal! Go for it!

Emg03063

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 08:31:19 PM »
I put a 5kw microinverter system on my house in NC last year.  It's been in almost a full year and has averaged 16kwh/ day.  (The panels are on east and west slopes of a center peak roof with a north-south ridgeline).  It cost me $28k before rebates and credits which were supposed to bring the net cost down to ~4800, and then save me ~$1000/yr on power for a ~5 yr payback.  (30% Federal tax credit + 35% State tax credit + $1000/kw rebate from Duke/Progress.  Somewhere between contract and install, Duke cut their rebate from $1000/kw to $500/kw, so it extends my payback period a bit.  I also have to be on a demand schedule that gives me a surcharge for peak power (which naturally always occurs at 6pm now, right after the sun sets).   Also, Duke is trying to change legislation to only pay industrial producer rates to retail producers, instead of retail rates, since they're concerned that residential solar production here is becoming too popular and is cutting into their business.  (The argument is that somehow we're not paying our 'fair' share of the cost of maintaining the network, despite the fact that we still pay our $20/mo basic service fee--pure BS IMO, but I digress).  Your numbers sound good, and it sounds like a winning investment.  My only 2 caveats are as follows: 

1.  Check what rates are contractually guaranteed by the utility and not just quoted by the installer.  My installer appears to be out of business and is not returning my calls about my cut rate rebate from Duke.   

2.  Shop around.  Panel costs have been dropping like a rock, and they're a small fraction of the total install cost anyway.  There's plenty of margin in that installer quote, and it doesn't hurt to get competitive bids.

Nords

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2014, 10:44:45 PM »
We're looking at solar for our home and the numbers are phenomenal. We live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon which, unbeknownst to almost everyone, gets more average yearly foot-candle-hours of sun than the town in Germany where all the solar panels are made and baselined. Because solar hasn't caught on up here yet, the local utility, PGE, pays handsome sums to net metering providers (which I hope to become). If I recall correctly, they're subsidized by a state program to do so. Anyway, here are the numbers:

The 10KW system with a 25 year warranty on all components installed is $42,000.
It will make a yearly average of 30kWh/day
PGE will reduce my monthly bill by $0.11/kWh (or an average of about $100/month)
On top of this, PGE will pay me an average monthly cash refund at the rate of $0.39/kWh (or an average of about $351/month).

This scenario results in the system paying itself back in under 8 years - if inflation is zero.

But that's before I factor in the 30% federal tax credit ($12,600) and the $1500 Oregon state credit. Those two items reduce the system cost to $27,900, which results in a payback of just over 5 years.

The contract with PGE is 15 years. The net metering rates I mention above are pegged to PGE's published current rate per kWh. If they charge more, my pay rates go up. If they charge less, my pay rates go down. Electricity rates in my area have averaged 7% inflation over the last 20 years.

Over its 25 year life - even assuming the cash payments disappear at year 15 and we just get the prevailing per/kWh rate as a refund thereafter - this system will pay itself many times over and factoring inflation into the mix, it's even more so.

Any Mustachians have a good argument against doing this? I'm about to pull the trigger.

Thx!
Based on your numbers, you should do it.

Your main risk is political, but even with an eight-year payback that's a pretty small risk.  Many utilities have found that their net-metering rates are overly generous, especially when their customer base shrinks as everyone is netting out to zero.  This gives the utility a motive to raise rates on the "evil PV owners who aren't paying for their share of the grid".

Check the DSIREUSA.org website for the latest on your federal/state/locality tax credits.  As another poster mentioned, $42K is a pretty big price tag and the credit may be capped at a certain dollar figure.  The way around that cap is to do the installation in separate tax years.  Install all of the rails this year, along with half of the panels, and then do the rest next year.

I looked into solar about 5 years ago so some of my info may be old:
Solar panels lose a portion of their 'effectiveness' each year.  Might be 1-5%. 
Similarly solar panels must be either kept clean or reduced by a percentage to account for dirt/grime.
Solar panels can be easily damaged by hail/falling limbs, etc.
Are you looking at a fixed or tunable system?  If it moves to track then sun then there are more components to break.
Today's PV panels (and most of yesterday's PV panels) don't lose any significant capacity until they're 25 years old.  And frankly that data is based on projecting less than 25 years of experience.
I have never cleaned my PV panels.  The weather takes care of that.  Some of the panels are over 20 years old and all of them have been on our roof for 6-9 years.
PV panel cover glass is rated for hurricane impacts, major hail, and human bodyweight.  We've had wind gusts of over 60 knots several times during the last nine years, along with an earthquake, and we've had more damage to the rest of the roof than to the part with the PV panels on it.
I haven't seen a sun-tracking system on a residence in years.  I don't think it's worth the extra expense anyway.

You will need to get additional insurance for your home (ours amounts to an extra 30$ a year or so) to cover the solar panels.
Check how expensive it will be to remove the panels if/when you need to replace your roof.
Our solar panels are warrantied not to drop below a certain level of effectiveness depending on age.  Check the warranty of the equipment you get for both the panels and inverters.  Our panels are also warrantied against hail smaller than a softball.
As far as equipment goes, I like micoinverters much more than the regular string ones.  If something goes wrong with a microinverter it doesn't affect a whole bunch of panels, just the one it's connected to.  They also perform much better if you have any pipes/chimneys/overhanging trees that might shade a couple panels in a string.
Work out your break even point, figure out how long you plan to be staying where you're currently living (I'm not convinced that having the panels on your house will necessarily be a selling feature, being somewhat of a pessimist).  Also check about tax write-offs for depreciation of equipment (since you're now basically being an energy reseller).  For us it was a no-brainer.
We don't insure our panels.  If the insurance makes you sleep better at night, then great, but if you're getting a payback within 5-8 years then PV panel insurance is analogous to buying an extended warranty on a TV or a computer.

When we decided to renovate our roof (more insulation), we had to take down over 40 PV panels and all the hardware.  The entire removal took one workday.  The complete re-installation (starting from scratch with drilling holes and routing new rails/clips) took about 20 man-hours spread out over a week. 

I'd only worry about the roof if it's in sad shape now.  The PV rails actually strengthen the roof framework and the panels protect the roof from a lot of weather problems.  If you re-roof before installing a PV system then the roof under the panels will probably last longer than the roof on the rest of the house.  If you have 5-10 years of life left in your existing roof (and no bad shingles or roof leaks) then you can probably just go ahead and re-roof now.  A compromise would be bringing out a roofer to do an inspection & minor repairs, and then install the PV system.

Some microinverters will clip at their max wattage.  I think there are 300-watt microinverters, but some panels put out a higher power than the microinverter can convert.  The best advice is to ensure the panel is matched to the microinverter (no clipping) and do the price comparison against a string inverter.  A string inverter with more than one microprocessor (more than one conversion algorithm) can also do a great job with shaded panels.

Home buyers do not pay extra for a PV system.  They don't see the future value and they're just not willing to dicker over the $10K-$40K difference.

Emg03063

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 06:55:46 AM »
If your tax credit exceeds your tax liability, you can carry the credit forward to a future year.  No need to phase the install.

Nords

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2014, 08:53:55 AM »
If your tax credit exceeds your tax liability, you can carry the credit forward to a future year.  No need to phase the install.
That's only part of the issue, and there is definitely a financial incentive to phase in an expensive installation. 

Every state/local credit may have different rules, and homeowners have to know the details of their own rules.

For example, here's the Hawaii PV credit:
http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=HI01F&re=0&ee=0
Quote
For photovoltaic systems, the maximum allowable credits are as follows:
Single family residential property is eligible for a credit of 35% of the actual cost or $5,000, whichever is less;
In this case, the $5000 cap is reached when the homeowner has spent $14,285.71.  Yet most retail systems cost $20K-$30K, which means that their credits would be capped at $5000 before reaching the actual $7K-$10.5K percentage.  This is why we ended up installing our system over three consecutive years, and we carried over tax credits for several more years.

OP's Oregon rules are even more complicated (at the local level as well as the state level):
http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=OR17F&re=0&ee=0
Quote
Maximum Incentive:   ... PV, Fuel Cells and Wind Turbines: $6,000 ($1,500 per year for 4 years), up to 50% of net cost.
That means a $42K installation would have a potential credit of $21K, but he'd have to install it over four years to avoid hitting the $6K cap.  Even then he'd be taking credits for a minimum of seven years (four years of installation plus another three years of the fourth increment) and probably rolling over credits for several years after that.

Of course phasing the installation in over four years means that his electric bills will remain higher than "necessary" for most of that time, so he'd have to balance the benefit of the credit against paying higher electric bills.

Daleth

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2014, 09:50:31 AM »
Here's a bit of a challenge:

Where is all of your energy currently coming from? I'm talking to all of you.

What are you doing to help push renewable energy? Are you sitting on your ass with a calculator whining about having to clean panels once a month and bad ROI? Think about the world you're leaving to your kids, or even future you.

86,000 TW a day hits the Earth in the form of solar. Get moving

Word.

MattinDundee

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2014, 11:50:39 AM »
The panels come with either a 25 or 30 year warranty against not only failure, but against substandard performance. After 10 years the labor to replace or work on them is out of pocket. The 30s are guaranteed to be 91% efficient at 30 years. The 25s are guaranteed to be 86% efficient at 30 years.

And that's a good thought about the bump in homeowners' insurance. Will have to ask about that.

The panels are being mounted to the corrugated metal roof of my barn which shouldn't need replacing in the next 30 years.

And we have no plans to move or sell our little three acre hobby farm with the big Fisher-Price barn.

Thanks for all the response guys!!!

MattinDundee

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2014, 11:57:14 AM »

We've revised our tariffs in Colorado that say that you will not be 'reimbursed' for more than 120% of what you use.

Yes. PGE here in OR also has a provision where they will make sure that over a year's time, you don't go past 100% rebate. However, with a well pump and a small home winery, our average yearly consumption is in the range of 16,000 kW and our 10K system will make at the most about 12,000 KW a year. (Yup! My installer routinely has customers getting more than the rated production over a year's time). Sadly, we'll probably never zero out anyway.

MattinDundee

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2014, 12:23:22 PM »
I looked into solar about 5 years ago so some of my info may be old:

Solar panels lose a portion of their 'effectiveness' each year.  Might be 1-5%. 
Similarly solar panels must be either kept clean or reduced by a percentage to account for dirt/grime.
Solar panels can be easily damaged by hail/falling limbs, etc.

Are you looking at a fixed or tunable system?  If it moves to track then sun then there are more components to break.

In spite of all of these factors you do seem to have a good ROI which would tempt me as well.

Panels in my area are self-cleaning with all the rain we get.  The "covered in dust" period happens to coincide with our sunniest months (Aug-Sept) so it's a wash.



The subsidy has now been cut to around 6c/kwh (below the retail rates) and almost killed off the industry.

Bad luck you only get an average of 3 hours/day of full sunshine over there too :)

My $0.39/kWh is locked to the price of electricity for 15 years contractually. If you get the contract, you are guaranteed 15 yrs of subsidies plus or minus the general rate. I'm inclined to try to lock that in before they "kill the industry."

People are really down on our sunshine levels but all I can tell you is, my good friend has a 10KW system on his barn and he makes an average of 11,000 kWh/yr. Another guy I know has a 10kW ground mount system and he made 12,200 kWh last year.


Every state/local credit may have different rules, and homeowners have to know the details of their own rules.


I re-read the OR rules and I'm going to get $6000 but I claim it in four consecutive $1500 amounts.

Federal credit on PV is 30% with no cap at all.

I'm DOIN IT, GUYS! The dude is coming over here in an hour to sign the papers.

THANKS FOR ALL THE POSTS!

beltim

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2014, 01:25:48 PM »
I would like to have the opportunity to invest some money into green energy production facilities, since I do want to do my part to slow climate change. I unfortunately haven't found a good opportunity to do that yet. Mosaic looks like a promising crowd-funding company devoted to expanding solar power. Unfortunately regulations currently restrict them to accepting investments only from accredited investors and California residents. I am not an accredited investor or a California resident, but those readers who are should check them out.

Thanks for the tip!  I signed up for Mosaic to see what was available, but unfortunately there aren't any projects currently in funding.  I'm not sure how often they add projects, but I thought I'd share in case anyone else was interested.

Loud Noises

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2014, 04:13:10 PM »
My parents added solar to their home roughly 5 years ago and they have been thrilled with both the results and ROI.  I think my Dad said the panels have already paid for themselves and he expects an annual 8% return from here on out.

Without the substantial rebates, it may be a different equation.  But their story has been a definite success.

bacchi

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2014, 07:21:03 PM »
Thanks for the tip!  I signed up for Mosaic to see what was available, but unfortunately there aren't any projects currently in funding.  I'm not sure how often they add projects, but I thought I'd share in case anyone else was interested.

I invested in some Mosaic issues before they started asking for proof of accredited investor status. They've paid on time with an average yield of about 4.5%.

enigmaT120

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2014, 11:57:48 AM »
We had some installed a few years ago by SunRun, who actually owns and maintains (if they need it) the panels.  The tax credit I got pretty much paid for the installation, so I'm getting the electricity for free for 15 years.  Then I can buy the panels or start buying the electricity from the panels for $.15/kwh.  The 2.4 kilowatt system makes about a third of the electricity we use. 

Now my wife wants to get more solar panels and heat the house with electricity, instead of the free firewood I get from thinning my forest land.  Sigh.

Nords

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2014, 04:59:22 PM »
Now my wife wants to get more solar panels and heat the house with electricity, instead of the free firewood I get from thinning my forest land.  Sigh.
So she's trying to get you to minimize your carbon emissions?  Sounds reasonable.

nawhite

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2014, 10:48:53 AM »
Now my wife wants to get more solar panels and heat the house with electricity, instead of the free firewood I get from thinning my forest land.  Sigh.
So she's trying to get you to minimize your carbon emissions?  Sounds reasonable.

If you believe the propaganda on the bags of wood pellets I buy, wood is a 100% carbon neutral heating fuel because if you don't burn it, it will decompose and let the carbon out anyway. I remain skeptical of these claims (notably because the milling/transporting of wood is a fairly intensive process involving lots of diesel engines).

On your property, it might be true though if you cut and split by hand.

warfreak2

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2014, 11:38:01 AM »
Alternatively, if you don't buy it, they don't grow it, and that carbon would stay in the air instead of becoming a tree.

But you're right about the milling and transporting.

Nords

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2014, 11:44:28 AM »
Now my wife wants to get more solar panels and heat the house with electricity, instead of the free firewood I get from thinning my forest land.  Sigh.
So she's trying to get you to minimize your carbon emissions?  Sounds reasonable.

If you believe the propaganda on the bags of wood pellets I buy, wood is a 100% carbon neutral heating fuel because if you don't burn it, it will decompose and let the carbon out anyway. I remain skeptical of these claims (notably because the milling/transporting of wood is a fairly intensive process involving lots of diesel engines).

On your property, it might be true though if you cut and split by hand.
Good point-- sounds like you've had this discussion a few times.  There's also a huge public-relations campaign to "prove" that the production of PV panels and storage batteries uses more energy (and releases more carbon) than conventional fuel sources.  I'm skeptical of both sides of these claims, too.

Our property has plenty of trees, but they're either composted or mulched.  We don't heat our home, although there are a few places on the islands where that can be necessary.  But I think that cutting & splitting by hand gets old real fast.

enigmaT120

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2014, 04:43:00 PM »
I cut it with a chainsaw, but split it by hand.  Monster maul.  It's a good workout, as is limbing and yarding the logs by hand.  I'm pre-commercially thinning my forest land and reducing fire danger, so the trees I'm cutting are the suppressed and dying ones.  Heating with firewood is pretty much carbon-neutral, but there are particulate emissions even from my catalytic wood stove.  If we didn't burn the wood I guess I could sell it. 

The ironic part for me is that I consider cutting firewood to sell to be too much work for the money, but for some reason doing it to heat my house for free makes sense to me.  And I like doing it.


Milspecstache

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Re: Why would I NOT do SOLAR?
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2014, 04:56:51 PM »
The ironic part for me is that I consider cutting firewood to sell to be too much work for the money, but for some reason doing it to heat my house for free makes sense to me.  And I like doing it.

I am exactly with you.  I have to clear trees on my property to keep access open so I always cut the wood into woodstove-size pieces.  Then I built a woodshed to keep it dry.  Later it gets burned in a woodstove which is awesome in that the heat is free.  Later I take the ashes out as fertilizer for my lawn and the goat eats the grass in that spot since it grows better than the surrounding lawn.

I love making/storing/burning my own firewood but would never consider selling it.