Here’s what to know earlier than switching to solar power in El Paso – El Paso Occasions

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As El Pasoans brace for larger electrical payments, some are solar as a wise funding.

With temperatures rising — and El Paso Electric in search of a 13.4% residential fee improve — solar professionals say saving cash is the most typical cause householders go solar. Some El Pasoans have put in solar panels on their houses to make the most of the area’s ample sunshine.

Are you solar curious and questioning the best way to make the change? Have you gotten a quote and are undecided? Solar professionals share the best way to decide whether or not solar is an efficient match for you and the best way to evaluate quotes.

“We are either going to rent our energy for the rest of our lives from the utility or go solar and own it,” mentioned Shelby Ruff, board president of the non-profit Eco El Paso and former proprietor of a solar firm. “I’m a big fan of taking my energy independence into my own hands.”

How solar power can prevent cash

El Paso has a few of the finest solar potential within the United States.

“As you go west towards El Paso, the solar radiance gets stronger and stronger, which means more watts produced for every solar panel,” Ruff mentioned. “So the exact same system in Austin that costs the exact same price, in El Paso it will make 15% to 20% more electricity.”

According to Environment America, by the tip of 2021 El Paso had 70.4 MW of put in solar capability. That was almost double the put in capability 4 years earlier in 2017, at 37 MW.

Professionals say many owners take a look at solar as an funding that can repay over time.

“When you decide to install a solar system, you are offsetting your electric bill with this monthly payment for the solar,” mentioned Gad Ronat, proprietor of El Paso-based Solar Solutions. “It’s become really affordable.”

More:El Paso Electric fee improve listening to in progress as settlement negotiations proceed

Unlike fluctuating energy costs from a utility, as soon as you purchase solar panels, the worth is locked in. Solar professionals say it’s a in style alternative for folks nearing retirement or dwelling on a hard and fast earnings.

“If you add up how much you’re going to pay in 20, 25 years towards your electric bills, it will be more than what you will pay to get solar,” mentioned Roberto Madin of Solar Solutions.

The federal authorities provides a 26% residential solar energy tax credit score. That means if in case you have taxable earnings, you possibly can declare a portion of the price of your solar set up as a tax credit score. Reach out to a tax skilled to make sure you qualify for the credit score earlier than signing a solar set up contract.

Solar panels are installed at a home in El Paso, Texas on April 30, 2022.

According to Energy Sage, common quotes for a 5 kilowatts solar set up in El Paso for buyer utilizing the web site ranges in value from $11,942 to $16,158 with a payback interval of 11.5 years.

Eco El Paso’s Ruff mentioned even a small solar system can result in financial savings.

“As long as your bills are over $30, everyone can go solar, because you have some amounts of energy that you can save on,” Ruff mentioned. “Even if it’s only five solar panels on your roof versus your neighbor that might have 25 or 30.”

More:El Paso Electric revenue rises to $146.2M in 2021 in first full yr of latest possession

Sam Silerio, proprietor of Sunshine City Solar, mentioned houses with solar panels promote at a better worth. Ruff, who has labored with housing builders to put in solar, agreed that solar homes are in excessive demand.

Worried about property taxes? You will not see a rise as a result of Texas code exempts solar panels from property tax value determinations. 

Crunch the numbers earlier than going all in on solar panels

Solar professionals advocate getting at the least three quotes earlier than signing a contract. Here’s what to anticipate whereas getting solar quotes:

First, installers will decide if your property is an efficient candidate for panels. Solar suppliers will use Google Earth and satellite tv for pc photographs of your home and see whether or not the roof is south-facing and receives sufficient daylight. Energy Sage can even supply an preliminary evaluation of your home’s viability.

Then the corporate will decide what number of panels you’ll want to put in. The installer will ask to your common electrical energy utilization, primarily based in your current electrical energy payments.

Silerio mentioned making your home as energy environment friendly as attainable earlier than putting in solar will provide help to save more cash. 

“If you can make a tight airship with your home, you might have reduced your solar system size from 12 panels to eight panels,” he mentioned. 

If your roof is due for a alternative, you are higher off making that funding earlier than getting solar, as a result of it might value extra down the road if you have already got panels. 

When evaluating quotes, ask the corporate what parts they’re utilizing and the way lengthy their guarantee lasts. Other elements to contemplate are set up prices and what choices the corporate provides to service and restore the solar panels.

“If you get multiple quotes the first metric you should look at is the price per watt,” Silerio mentioned. “Then you can get the real apples to apples comparison.”

Installers supply financing packages however Silerio additionally really useful reaching out to your financial institution or different lending establishment to discover choices. 

Ronat mentioned the market has grown considerably since founding his firm in 2006. He really useful in search of out corporations with fulltime employees in El Paso and a observe report of profitable installations. 

Another choice is to affix the Solar United Neighbors El Paso cooperative, the place householders will purchase solar panels as a bunch for decreased prices.

More:On the fence about solar? New cooperative launches to assist El Pasoans make the transition

Avoid widespread connection issues

Once you determine to go solar, you or your solar installer will submit an interconnection utility with El Paso Electric. The utility recommends ready to put in the system till the appliance is accredited. Some clients might want to make enhancements equivalent to transformer upgrades and meter relocations.

“Like any other investment, customers should take their time to research the best product available and understand the process they will need to follow,” El Paso Electric spokesperson Javier Camacho mentioned.

Camacho mentioned some clients expertise delays getting their solar system energized due to errors in purposes, incorrect contact info and a scarcity of communication with the utility.

“Communication between El Paso Electric and the customer is integral throughout the installation process, without it can cause delay and/or rejections,” he mentioned.

More:How solar is the Sun City? El Paso trails southwest cities in solar power, ranks second in Texas

El Paso Electric costs $30 minimal invoice

Residential solar customers in El Paso sometimes keep linked to the electrical grid. Going utterly off-grid requires putting in costly battery techniques which are typically not cost-effective in city settings.

But staying on the grid, and getting access to electrical energy when your panels will not be producing, comes at a value. All Texas clients with El Paso Electric should pay a $30 minimal invoice. The rule doesn’t apply to New Mexico residents.

This means when you at the moment pay lower than $30 a month for electrical energy, going solar is unlikely to be value efficient.

Eco El Paso’s Shelby Ruff mentioned corporations ought to dimension techniques so clients will nonetheless generate a $30 minimal invoice. Installing a system that can cowl 100% of your electrical energy wants will incur pointless prices.

Solar panels are installed at a home in El Paso, Texas on April 30, 2022.

“If you get down to net zero and have no electric bill, the utility will still send you a $30 bill every month,” Ruff mentioned. “You just spent a ton of money extra on producing energy that you’re going to now turn around and give to the utility for free.”

“Utilities like Austin or San Antonio, and utilities all across Texas that are public and private, are promoting solar,” Ruff mentioned. “But that fee is the big rub in El Paso.”

El Paso Electric defended the minimal invoice.

“Everyone using the grid to deliver or receive energy and using the installed generation capacity to ensure reliability should contribute to the cost to build and maintain this critical infrastructure and perform functions like billing, metering, and customer service,” Camacho mentioned. 

Ruff, alternatively, identified solar houses assist stabilize the grid throughout peak demand and cut back the necessity for the utility to construct new power crops, saving each the corporate and ratepayers cash.

Residential solar is only one piece of the puzzle

Installing solar is not an choice for everyone: possibly you lease your home, or you do not qualify for financing to repay solar panels. Maybe your payments are low sufficient that paying for solar panels is not economical.

El Paso Electric owns utility-scale solar operations and provides a Community Solar program, the place ratepayers will pay for power from the utility’s solar installations. The program is at the moment totally enrolled however clients can signal as much as be part of the waitlist.

Shelby Ruff of Eco El Paso mentioned El Paso Electric ought to put money into extra utility-scale solar so al El Pasoans can profit from the expertise.

“Solar works, batteries work, and now the price is competitive,” Ruff mentioned. “It’s a no brainer for a city like El Paso where the sun is so rich.”

Want to be taught extra about solar power in El Paso? Click hyperlinks beneath

Staff author Martha Pskowski could also be reached at mpskowski@elpasotimes.com and @psskow on Twitter.

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