Here Comes the Sun
by Peter Soscia
Incentives help homeowners tap into solar power
“It’s not easy being green,” a motto of Kermit the Frog and environmentally conscious homeowners looking to switch from fossil fuel utilities to green energy alternatives. However, in recent years homeowners have been able to change their tune as advancements in technology and government incentives have made residential solar energy more efficient and affordable than ever. “We got a $23,000 system installed for about $7,500,” said Daniel Cadzow, who recently purchased solar panels for his home near Delaware Park. The cost saving comes from a number of incentives offered by the Federal and New York State Governments.
New York State will cover 25 percent (capped at $5,000) of a solar energy project with tax credits, and through 2016 the federal government is providing an additional tax credit of 30 percent of project costs.
It’s more than just tax credits that make these system installations affordable. Solar technology advancements have made production costs cheaper and The New York State Environmental Research and Development Association (NYSERDA) offers a cash incentive of 70-cents-per-watt upon purchase. “The NYSERDA incentive is based on system size, so the more energy a solar system produces the more money you receive,” said CIR Electrical Construction Corporation’s Head of Solar Business Development, Darrin Harzewski. “We typically install anywhere from a 6,000 watt solar system to a 10,000 watt systems. On a 10,000 watt system a person would have $7,000 right off the purchasing cost.”
The savings continue upon installation of the solar system, cutting the need for the majority of and in some cases, all of a residential home’s electric utility. CIR estimates with the savings Cadzow will have electrical utility costs the system will have paid for its self in five-and-a-half years. “We’ve eliminated his monthly electric bill, with the exception of a basic connection fee. Most people finance the project cost over 15-years, but based on the inflation rate on utilities, in five-and-half years the savings will equal his investment. [Cadzow,] got his system when the incentive rate was a little bit higher. The numbers have dropped slightly so now most people are in a six to eight year range for return on investment,” said Harzewski.
CIR estimates the solar system will save Cadzow’s family close to $50,000 in electric bills over the 30-year life span of the system. “Not that we plan on moving, but the system was a great investment in our house because we raised the value of our home roughly $20,000 and again, we only spent $7,500,” said Cadzow.
Though the federal tax incentives are set to drop from 30 percent to 10 percent in January of 2017, Harzewski doesn’t feel the incentives drop is guaranteed to happen. “That 30 percent tax credit has already been extended twice. It’s all tied into to politics so you never really know, it could stay at 30 percent,” said Harzewski.
With Cadzow’s house sitting in front of the busy Scajaquada expressway, he is proud that so many people will be seeing the solar panels on his large Victorian home. “I would definitely recommend solar power to others. It makes sense environmentally, ethically, and financially, it’s the best thing we can do,” said Cadzow. “Some people get caught up on the aesthetic of solar panels on the roof, but when I look out and I see them on my house, they give me a real since of well being. We’re making a break from fossil fuels but also generating the electricity we’re using. It helps me live a much more guilt free life.”
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