A current report from a solar advocacy group says Florida continues to steer the southeast in producing solar energy.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which is commonly at odds with Florida Power & Light, mentioned the utility has executed properly increasing its personal solar manufacturing. The area, nevertheless, nonetheless lags behind on rooftop solar. Only about 10% of solar comes from houses, whereas utilities resembling FPL produce 90%.
For Florida, that quantities to about 90,000 households powered by rooftop solar panels, in response to the Public Service Commission, or about 1% of all electrical clients within the state.
WLRN is right here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Our journalists are persevering with to work laborious to maintain you knowledgeable throughout South Florida. Please help this important work. Become a WLRN member right now. Thank you.
For some, making the transfer out of your utility to solar is not at all times simple as a result of upfront prices might be steep. In Florida, it may possibly value as much as $18,000 per home to get arrange with solar panels.
You may be asking your self, is the price value it? For Laura Tellez, the South Florida program coordinator for Solar United Neighbors, the reply is sure.
“It may appear that it’s costly, however when you consider how a lot [you’ll] be spending on electrical energy for the subsequent 25 years, there’s positively a extremely nice return,” she told WLRN Sundial.
Solar United Neighbors, which helps facilitate finding solar installers at competitive prices, has already done 60 co-ops throughout the state.
They’re not the only ones interested in making the investment. Some South Florida high school students recently installed a big solar array — 305 solar panels, to be exact — on their school’s gymnasium roof. And last month, FPL, the state’s largest utility provider announced plans to eliminate its carbon emissions by 2045 by halting fossil fuel usage and greatly increasing its reliance on solar energy. Back in 2019, FPL said it wanted to install 30 million panels across the state by 2030 — intentions that were not represented in the company’s recent push to slow down rooftop solar’s growth.
To better understand solar — solar energy, solar panels and solar installation — and the state of solar in Florida, WLRN Sundial has been hosting a series of conversations about the subject.
For the first and second parts of the series, Sundial spoke with Laura Tellez from Solar United Neighbors and Alex Harris, the climate change reporter for the Miami Herald.
Here are some of Tellez and Harris’ answers to some of your questions, and some of ours, about solar power. (Note: These interviews were separate, but for the purpose of this series, we’re combining them in one place.)
A listener named Marika Lynch in Miami told us, “Honestly, I do not know the place to begin. I’m afraid of being fleeced, however I’d love to do that.”
So, we’ll begin there. The biggest challenge is taking the first step of doing a little bit of research [and] understanding a little bit more, Tellez said. “It’s loads simpler than individuals notice.”
On the cost
In Florida, the average sized solar panel system in South Florida is about eight kilowatts. And the going rate for solar co-op pricing is about $2.25 per watt. At that rate, it’ll cost about $18,000 for an entire system that comes with a 25-year warranty.
Solar co-operatives, like Solar United Neighbors, bind interested neighbors in a kind of support group to bulk purchase solar panels. The groups, which are free to join, can help homeowners get the right solar equipment, quality installation and discounts on solar energy systems. . A federal tax credit is available for the year the system is installed. More on the tax credit here. Next year, the tax credit will drop to 22%.
Another detail worth mentioning, according to Tellez, there’s no sales tax on the purchase of a solar system. This means that the panels can increase the property value of your home, but you aren’t taxed on that improvement.
On managing expectations
Sometimes in order to get the best amount of energy and to have the most efficient solar panel array — how it’s laid out on your roof — you have to make some adjustment to your yard, like cutting down trees. And that, Harris said, can be a dealbreaker.
If you have big, old mature oak trees that shade your windows and bring your power bills down, it can be de devastating to see them go.
“I feel people typically are unhappy to the concept they may have to depart the tree that they’ve grown up with for years or a long time simply to allow them to have probably the most optimum solar array,” Harris said.
Now, if you decide, “I actually wish to preserve that tree, I wish to transfer the panels some place else on my roof,” it’s doable, but you may not get the amount of power you were promised.
Another factor: Your roof. It has to be in pretty good condition. Experts suggest replacing roofs that are older than 20 years before installing solar panels.
About the process, Harris continued: “I feel individuals typically suppose it is simpler than it’s. There’s a pair extra issues that perhaps they give thought to once they take a look at their neighbors’ roofs and see a bunch of lovely shiny solar panels on it.”
On the actual product
The general consensus, according to Harris’ reporting: People are happy. Everything, she said, has sort of lived up to the promises heard when people made the decision to go solar. Power bills are lower. “They have extra confidence understanding their energy comes from a cleaner supply,” she said. “And typically they will even promote that power again to the grid, and it lowers the prices of getting a reimbursement for his or her solar set up.”
That process of selling back electricity to the utility company is called net metering. It lets homeowners earn credit for excess solar electricity generated and fed back into the grid. Currently, the rates are set for Florida Power and Light to buy the energy from you at the same rate that they buy from any other utility. It’s called the market rate and it’s great for homeowners, Harris said, because it means that you can make money back and pay off your solar panels faster.
On why isn’t solar … everywhere?
The state of Florida has preempted towns and cities’ ability to come up with their own own plans to fight climate change and to do their part in a global effort to reduce carbon emissions. And unfortunately, Harris said, these laws have had the effect of encouraging people to hold on to fossil fuels, like natural gas.
But there are a few big companies, like Walmart, she said, who “are a supply of higher moral selections and going with what their customers need.”
Hear more with Tallahassee Takeover podcast episode, Net zero with zero plans: Florida’s limits on limiting gas emissions
You’ve heard it before: One of the most important things we can do to slow down the worst impacts of climate change is to stop releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Miami-Dade County had a plan to do that — to slash their emissions in half by 2030.
But it’s tough to do that in the county, Harris said, because “we’re on the mercy of a monopoly utility that hasn’t actually made that full dedication to reducing its emissions on the identical velocity.”
And, additionally, due to the airport. Air journey at Miami International Airport makes up 1 / 4 of all emissions in Miami-Dade County. And the know-how for a renewable energy or low-energy gas for airplanes would not exist simply but.
And lastly, Harris mentioned, it is towards FPL’s enterprise mannequin to have much more rooftop solar and so they attempt to stand in entrance of it, with payments in Tallahassee, with minimal charge payments — all kinds of little small issues to type of make that much less inexpensive.
WLRN’s Jenny Staletovich contributed to this report.
An earlier model of this story mentioned the federal tax credit score is simply accessible in case you puchase the panels outright. The credit score is out there for the yr the system is put in.