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The Process of Going Solar for the Interested Investor

In recent years more and more solar power systems have been popping up in your neighborhood, around your office, and even around town on municipal buildings. You begin to think, well maybe I should go solar, but you’re apprehensive because solar is perceived to be too expensive or you’re not familiar with the process.

Now, more than ever, going solar is an affordable option for most homeowners. The national average escalation in the United States for electricity is 6.5 percent – per year! That is according to the US Department of Energy over the past 35 years. In Southern California, we pay a premium on our electricity just like everything else.

Homeowners with an electric bill of $150 or more can go solar for equal to or less than what they’re currently paying the utility, without spending any money out-of-pocket. Those reaching the utility’s third and fourth rate tiers in Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric’s territory are paying a much higher price for electricity. At these rate levels, solar is cost competitive and often a cheaper option.

By adopting solar power, you essentially lock in the cost of electricity for the next 20 years, protecting yourself against future rate increases. You can even go solar for no upfront cost through various financing options available. In addition, the federal government provides a 30 percent tax credit, which is available until 2016. The typical homeowner will see a five to eight year return on their investment. The solar panels carry a manufacturer’s warranty for 25 years – and a solar PV system will still be producing about 80 percent of its initial capacity in year 25.

The process of going solar is simple, but does require a bit of time and research. Choosing a well-established, reputable company with a significant portfolio will allow you to receive the necessary information to make an educated decision for what is best for your home and access to references in your community to hear about their experience in going solar.

The first step is to schedule a site evaluation. Based off of your historical electrical consumption, you will receive a proposal from a solar contractor for installing a solar system to either completely eliminate your electrical usage or partially offset your usage to keep you out of the most expensive rate tiers. A reputable company will get on your roof, take measurements and do shade analysis reporting.

Once you have decided on a system size, system location, panel manufacturer, and finance mechanism, an agreement will be signed. Next, the design plans are finalized and the solar contractor submits a request for a permit with your city or county, depending on where your home is located.

The typical installation of a solar power system takes about five days. Larger systems will take slightly more time to install. After the system is completely installed, an inspector from the city or county will come out to provide a final inspection. The utility authorizes your permission to operate which allows you to put power back onto the grid and receive retail credit for your production.

The minute your system is turned on, you enter into a net-metering agreement with SCE and SDG&E. This means you no longer have a monthly electric bill and have transitioned into an annual billing cycle. At the end of each year, the utility and you will do a “true up” or balancing of your account. They will compare all the electricity you have produced to all the electricity you have consumed.

A solar power system has an average lifespan of over 30 years. You can expect that your return on your investment will be well before your system reaches its life expectancy and you will benefit from free electricity provided by one of the most abundant sources of energy available to us, solar radiation. Not to mention you will be supporting the national economy and preserving the world’s natural resources.

If you are in the market to go solar and beginning your research into reputable solar companies, contact Sullivan Solar Power. Sullivan Solar Power has been in business since 2004 and has over 2,000 installations throughout Southern California. They hold a longstanding A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. To receive a preliminary quote and to schedule a complimentary site evaluation, call 1-800-SULLIVAN or visit www.SullivanSolarPower.com

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