Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why solar (PV) in Seattle Washington ROCKS!

I just had my 4.3kW solar array installed on my home in Seattle.  The upfront cost is a little high but I should still be able to pay off the system in less than 8 years.  This is possible thanks to Washington States amazing Solar credits.

Seattle City Light (and other Washington residence) pay amazingly low energy rates for residential our power. Even with this low rate people installing solar panels can relatively quickly get a good ROI on their panels.

  • Seattle has the lowest rate compared to the top 25 largest cities in the US.
  • The 2013 rate for SCL customers is $.0466/kWh for the first 10kWh. 
  • The national average rate is $0.129/kWh  and people in New York pay ~$0.209/kWh

How can I pay back my panels so fast?

The Washington State Solar generation incentive program.  While not the exact name it is a Performance-Based Incentive that gives the array owner a dollar amount for every kW they generate no matter if they use that power in their home or send it back to the power grid.  The current incentive is in place until June 30th  2020. 

In short this incentive give me $.54/kWh I generate on-top of my reduced power bill and any Net metering (where I sell power back to my power company).  I get the full 54 cents because my Itek Solar Panels and BlueFrog inverters are MADE IN WASHINGTON.  If you have non-Washington made components the incentive drops significantly

Many other states don't provide such an incentive nor do they give you full price on the net metering.  But Washington does!  Yet another reason why living in Seattle ROCKS. 

Other State Example:
My partner's parents have a ~7kW system at their home on Oahu Hawaii.  This system generate power for ~10 hours a day and significantly lowers their power bill.  Hawaii Power Company (HECO) current rate is ~$.32/kWh.  This is 7 times higher than the rates I pay in Seattle.  At that rate they are still expected to pay off their system in ~5 years.  This very high rate (and rebates) is the only way the $40k+ system can pay for its self in a timely fashion.