So­lar trend­ing


So­lar en­ergy is on the rise across the coun­try and de­spite re­cent tar­iffs that have been placed on so­lar cells, the cost of so­lar en­ergy is be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive ev­ery day. For home­own­ers, the de­ci­sion to go so­lar is usu­ally based on eco­nomic or en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and if you are con­sid­er­ing so­lar en­ergy, we would like to share some in­sight to bet­ter in­form your de­ci­sion process.

The eco­nomic ques­tion is sim­ply, will so­lar save me money on my elec­tric bill? The an­swer is not so easy. In states with high elec­tric rates, the ad­van­tage of in­vest­ing in so­lar is un­de­ni­ably at­trac­tive with as lit­tle as 3-year pay­backs. Here in Santa Fe we pay rel­a­tively lit­tle for our elec­tric­ity as com­pared to other states, so the in­vest­ment pay­back is­much longer. The cost per kilo­watt hour (kWh) starts at roughly 7 cents and rises in­cre­men­tally up to about 12 cents per kWh for most house­holds. That is only about a third of what cer­tain states, like Cal­i­for­nia, pay. So, in­vest­ing in so­lar here may take up to 12 years or more to pay back your in­vest­ment.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal ques­tion is sim­ple: will so­lar be bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment? The an­swer is a re­sound­ing Yes! It is in­ter­est­ing to know that 1 kilo­watt of elec­tric­ity pro­duced by burn­ing coal will have the byprod­uct of 1.2 pounds of car­bon re­leased into our at­mos­phere. If you an­nu­ally use about 8,000 to 10,000 kilo­watt hours of elec­tric­ity, enough for a 2,500-square-foot home, you will need about a 5.7-kilo­watt so­lar sys­tem which will an­nu­ally off­set over 12,000 pounds of car­bon emis­sion into our at­mos­phere.

The next ques­tion to an­swer is how do you in­tend to pay for it? Buy­ing a sys­tem out­right is one way, but that re­quires a lot of money up front. There are other op­tions, such as a lease pro­gram. You don’t buy the equip­ment, you lease it, and the so­lar com­pany sup­plies the elec­tric­ity for a guar­an­teed long-term fixed rate. This power pur­chas­ing agree­ment is hedg­ing that util­ity com­pa­nies will raise rates and your fixed rate will re­sult in in­creased sav­ings over the years.

As leases can be prob­lem­atic, some com­pa­nies of­fer a loan pro­gram much like a home-eq­uity loan. As you pay back the note, you are not pay­ing PNM, and you even­tu­ally pay off your loan. An­other eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tion is the $5,000 fed­eral tax credit that is taken in its en­tirety in the first year.

There have been some neg­a­tive con­se­quences that have come up sell­ing so­lar homes. For in­stance, if a home seller is leas­ing a sys­tem and the prospec­tive buyer doesn’t want it, will they be able to get out of the lease? If it’s a loan, is the lien at­tached to the home? If you don’t know, you will need to find out. We deal with con­tracts all day long and what we know is that most peo­ple (ex­cept at­tor­neys) don’t like to read them. How­ever, you will need to read thor­oughly the so­lar lease or loan-pur­chase con­tract look­ing for ac­cel­er­a­tion clauses, trans­fer­abil­ity rights, and the like. There are no stan­dard con­tracts and they dif­fer from com­pany to com­pany.

The best of both worlds is sav­ing money and the planet si­mul­ta­ne­ously and so­lar may achieve that goal. Whether your pay­back is in 3 or 12 years, the net re­sult is that you won’t need to buy elec­tric­ity any longer be­cause you will be mak­ing your own. Then if you con­sider go­ing elec­tric with your next car, the ben­e­fits to your check­book and the planet will be tremen­dous.

Roger andMelissa are Real­tors at Keller Williams. Melissa was the 2017 pres­i­dent of the Santa Fe As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. Call them at 505-699-3112, email twicethe­selling­, or fol­low them on Twit­ter @Car­so­nandCar­son and at www. face­­so­nandcar­son.santafe­r­ealestate

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