Solar companies in San Diego and elsewhere have long sold the technology as an investment that pays off for both the environment and pocketbooks.
A trio of impending policy changes could collectively change the game.
Here’s the first one.
When Steve Hon decided to get solar panels five years ago, he could count on getting at least 30 percent of that investment back within than a year.
Hon received a $4,800 rebate known as the federal solar Investment Tax Credit just months after he installed 12 panels on the roof of his North Park home. It was the extra push Hon and his wife needed to make the purchase.
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When calculating payback years, energy storage plays a huge factor to shorten the time it takes to pay back the costs. It may not seem intuitive since batteries are kind of costly, but the math works out. Try it if you are considering a solar system.
Another cost-reducer is the increase in home resale value. Before solar became mainstream, this factor didn't exist. Today, a solar equipped home sells for more money which can offset the initial cost.
The last thing is only my personal opinion. Solar companies are shrude businessmen. Their prices have, for a long time, accounted for the fact that you are getting a fat rebate after installation. Their profits are not razor thin like many other industries. Once the rebates stop, they will adjust their pricing strategy to compete with each other again. Example: when the rebates stopped on buying a Prius, prices didn't go up. It actually went down.
I'm not overly concerned about the rebates. I doubt it'll stop. At least there'll be a CA incentive. Even when the incentives do stop, I doubt prices will change much in terms of ownership cost.
Sad to think solar would be tanked because of politics. A 30% shock to the industry would basically stymie it and set solar back at least 5 years. The quotes i've received varied from $10k - $20k for same system. I want to do it, but the cost makes me put the brakes on..
I don't see how rebates of 30% just vaporize, so we'll see.
My 2010 investment in solar panels included 40% in rebates from both the Federal and State government. I have been tracking the savings based on my 2009 billing as a baseline and it is on track to pay for itself in eight years. If the current payoff is more like five years, that is presumably because the price of solar panels has declined. Good news. I am not sure how important the loss of the rebate, if it happens, will be, as a declining cost of panels may make up for the loss of the rebate and any payoff period that is under 10 years is pretty good for an investment expected to offset electricity costs for 30 years or more.