Nowadays, utility companies in some states are required by law to provide a portion of their energy from renewable energy sources…..ie solar, wind, biogas, hydropower. This means they have to produce renewable energy themselves or they can purchase it in the form of a credit ….or be fined. This has given utility companies incentive to buy solar energy from YOU…their customers. With these incentives, does that mean solar is right for you?
Questions You should ask your Solar Representative:
4. What is FIT and can I get it to help fund my solar package?
FIT stands for Feed-In Tariff. FIT is an energy policy that guarantees monthly payments to anyone that produces renewable energy like solar energy.
FITs are designed to offer stable revenue streams through long-term purchase contracts, …SO they will send you a fixed payment every month depending on how much energy your solar panels produce. As of now in most states, you cannot accept the FIT and any grant. You must choose one or the other.
5. When and how are FIT payments made?
If you use the same company that supplies your electricity to pay your Feed-In Tariffs, hopefully they will do both at the same time...So instead of getting a monthly electric bill, you will hopefully get a check because your FIT contract and solar production will cover any monthly utility charges. You can alternatively appoint an agent to collect your tariffs for you
6. Who pays for FITs?
The suppliers pass on the cost of the Feed-In Tariffs to all their electricity customers.... so the bottom line is that all customers pay for renewable energy!
7. Is there an end to the FIT?
Yes, the utility companies are only obligated to work with the FIT up to a certain amount of energy produced (a limited amount of households will be signing up for FIT), so yes, you could miss out on a great deal!
8. Are there financing programs available?If so, what happens if my panels stop working and don’t produce the energy promised, do I still have to pay the bank?
Yes, many solar contractors have banks lined up to loan consumers the $30,000 for solar packages. Yes, you still have to pay the bank no matter what, it’s a loan, no different from any other loan.
Make sure you understand that there may be unforeseen problems with your roof, but your loan is still due. So you may want to wait to solarize if you do not think you can pay for roof repairs.
9. Will the electricity that my solar system produces pay for the price of the solar package?
- Depending on the amount of sun that your roof will produce, you have the opportunity to pay for your package and even get paid at the end of the month.
- Is your roof angled properly for optimal sun collection?
- Do you have a large roof?
- How old is your roof? Your roof must be able to handle the weight of the solar panels.
10. Does your contractor promise/guarantee a certain rate of electricity for every solar panel installed? …yes this can be done.
Sometimes your contractor will guarantee your electricity produced, which is perfect, because then you could calculate the fixed rate at which your bill/loan will be paid…if promised, make sure it shows up in your contract.
If your solar system is not guaranteed to produce electricity at a certain rate, then ask who supplies the micro inverters for the solar panels so you can check them out at bbb.org. Make sure that the manufacturers have a reliable support record/system for when you need to get in touch with them if a panel stops working….if your microinverters aren’t working, then your panels aren’t working and you won’t get paid by your electric company.
11. Who is responsible for the upkeep & management & repair of the solar system package (panels, transducers, the structure of the roof that the panels are attached to)
Make sure the contract shows that your contractor is responsible for the whole system and it’s upkeep…this keeps everyone happy. If anything goes wrong, God forbid, you do not want to have to learn every little detail about micro inverters and how they work.
12. Can you back out at the last minute for unforeseen problems?
Make sure that in your contract, you have the option to back out of everything if you flunk your roof inspection, or during installation if ther is a really large construction charge that no one had forseen…even your loan.
13. If the neighborhood birds choose to use your solar panels for target practice, who is responsible for cleanup.
The home owner is responsible, but in general, your solar panels will be OK. The energy production degradation will be minimal compared to the price of solar panel cleaning.
These are only a handful of questions that we asked about Solar, please let me know if there is something else you would like to know and I will do my best to find the information for you.