1. There’s Not Enough Sunshine In My Area for Solar
America is bathed in sunlight. Solar works, even in the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast where cloudy days are more frequent — you’ll just need a bigger system. Photoelectric systems produce optimally in spring, summer and early fall. Bear in mind, you don’t need a crystal-clear, blue sky to generate electricity. Even on cloudy days, solar electric systems easily generate 10 to 20 percent of their full capacity.
2. The Cost of Solar Is Too High
The costs associated with home solar electric systems have plummeted in recent years, mostly because of industry streamlining. In fact, solar has never been cheaper.
Moreover, solar electricity’s lifetime cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is significantly cheaper than other North American utility options, in part because of the federal Investment Tax Credit extension, which is now good until 2022. (See http://goo.gl/F3iPHt for more on tax credit extensions.)
In the Midwest, electricity from a solar electric system currently costs around 6 to 7 cents per kWh with the 30 percent credit, based on installation costs. In sunnier regions, such as the West and Southwest, the cost of electricity from a solar electric system is even lower. For comparison, large, investor-owned utilities typically charge 10 to 17 cents per kWh, sometimes more.
Even without the federal tax credits, solar electricity is still less expensive or on par with energy costs from
major utilities. And, unlike conventional power, the cost of electricity from a solar system won’t steadily increase. Consequently, solar electric systems hedge against inflation and spikes in energy prices, frequently providing a return on investment in the range of 3 to 5 percent.
The challenge with solar is that prepaying your electric bill requires a huge chunk of change. Because you have to pay for 30 to 50 years of electricity upfront, solar often appears outrageously expensive, at first glance.
Fortunately, in many areas, installers will lease you a system. And they’ll install a system on your home free of charge. You’ll simply pay them for the electricity the system generates for a set period, usually about 15 to 18 years. In this case, customers’ electricity bills are often cheaper than what they would have paid to utility providers throughout the life of the lease.
When the lease is up, the solar system will be yours, and all of your electricity will be free from that point on. You could easily benefit from another 15 to 20 years of free electricity, although you might need to install a new inverter.
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