Stop by 210 Stuyvesant Avenue and check out our new solar panels.
By Warren J. Keegan and Cynthia J. MacKay
Stop by 210 Stuyvesant Avenue and check out our new solar panels. There are ten of them atop the south side of the roof on our addition, and we think they look great. Not only that, but they are saving us money on electricity bills, and, most importantly, they are helping to reduce climate change.
We had a choice of leasing or buying the panels, and we chose to lease because the purchase option required an initial payment of $7,000. Our lease will be paid off over 20 years in monthly payments of $39, which adds up to about $9,000. With the lease, we get a smaller reduction on our monthly Con Ed bill, but our electricity bill has dropped by close to 50 percent since switching to solar.
The net present value of leasing is roughly $500 more than the purchase cost option, where all of generated electricity reduces the cost of a Con Ed bill.
Solar City, founded by the visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, is the company you should contact to get some of these panels for yourself. Solar City did all the heavy lifting: they checked out our roof on Google Maps from their headquarters in California to see if we had enough sun, and they filed permit applications and appeared twice before the Rye City Architectural Review Board. A crew of highly competent workers got them all up in less than a day, with no mess, fuss, or hitches.
Solar City has a website that allows every customer to see how much energy his panels are generating. On a sunny day in late February the panels generated over 9.36 kilowatt hours (kW-h), which is almost two-thirds of our average daily electricity consumption at that time of year.
If we do not use our power, it goes into the grid and we get a credit. To the extent that our electricity comes from our solar panels, the price of our electricity will never go up. Con Ed can raise prices, but they cannot raise the price of our solar power, which is fixed in our contract.
Our panels even work on cloudy days, but unfortunately they do not work when they are covered with snow. Our electric meter was replaced with a bi-directional meter. On a sunny day when we are not using all of the power we generate, it goes to the grid. You can see this on our meter, which turns backward. When we need power from the grid, the meter turns forward.