The calculated payback is based on assumptions that net metering laws will not change over the life of the array, that GCEA’s rates will go up by X%, and that GCEA’s rate structure will not change. The forecast for future rates is not provided by GCEA and is sometimes overly pessimistic. Net metering laws are beginning to change across the country and there is a good chance something will change in Colorado during the life of the system which could reduce the cost recovery of the system. It is also probable that GCEA's rate structure will change in the coming years. 75% of GCEA’s costs to provide service are fixed and do not vary based on how much energy a member uses, while our current rate design recovers only 25% of GCEA’s costs through a fixed charge on the member’s bill. GCEA’s future rate structure will, of necessity, change and will likely include a higher monthly fixed charge as well as time differentiated rates to recognize the lower cost, and value, of wholesale power when the sun is shining and the additional cost of power caused by peak demand after sunset.
Do your research.
When you make the decision to invest in residential solar, you are making a significant financial investment. Be sure to do your research on the company.
- Are the installers North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Electric trained and certified?
- When was your company established and how much solar has it installed to date?
- Can your company provide a list of the projects and references for them?
- Are you accredited with the Better Business Bureau? If so, what is your rating?
If you are purchasing a rooftop solar array, be sure to ask:
- What is the total installed (turnkey) cost of the system?
- What is the payback period? What are the assumptions underlying that estimate?
- Will I need to finance the array?
- Who gets the tax credits (the “renewable energy credit”)?
- Will I receive “free” electricity once panels are paid for?
- Does the company offer warranties on panels and inverters?
- What are the details of the service contract?
If you are leasing panels in a rooftop array, be sure to ask:
- What is the upfront cost of the system?
- Are there other customers in the vicinity with comparable systems? How much electricity are their systems producing?
- Who gets the tax benefit (the “renewable energy credit”)
- Can the lease be transferred if I sell the house?
- Does the lease company have the right to run a credit check?
Without a battery and a smart inverter, most solar arrays do not provide power during outages.
At GCEA, we have developed a community solar project to make the benefits of solar available to any members without their own net metering capabilities. Benefits include:
- Clean energy offset for some of your electric usage without the upfront cost of installing rooftop solar on your property
- Optimal siting for maximum efficiency
- Co-op assumes all responsibility and liability for the system
- For additional information, please visit our Community Solar Garden page
- Does your roof face south or west and is it shaded?
- Will you need to replace your roof sometime during the life of the panels? If so, you should replace your roof first.
- Have you explored all of your energy efficiency options? (It doesn’t make sense to purchase more solar than you need!) We can help you reduce your energy use and right-size your array.
- Does your community have restrictions?
Whether and how much you will benefit from a residential solar array depends on:
- How much you pay for electricity
- How much electricity you use
- Your roof
- Federal, state, and local incentives for solar development
- Your solar installer
At GCEA, we can help answer many of these questions.