After much anticipation, our solar systems are operational (mostly). Our photovoltaic (PV) system, for electricity production, was installed during two very cold and windy days right before Christmas. It consists of a DC power inverter and 38 roof panels which will produce about 7.6 KW of power, more than enough for our energy efficient home (minus the hot tub which we haven't yet figured out how best to connect to the solar hot water system). We applied for the PV system through the CT Solar Leasing Program, a program within the CT Clean Energy Fund, where we lease the system. After having our house "approved" for it's inclusion in the program, i.e good sun exposure and a CL&P (Northeast Utilities) customer, we signed a 15 year lease for the system. The net amount of our lease is the cost of the system minus a 60% rebate from the CT Clean Energy Fund, and minus a large federal tax credit that the leasing company receives for purchasing the equipment. This resulted in a very small monthly payment (about 1/3 of the typical monthly electrical bill for this size house. After the term of the lease is up we can choose to purchase the system at current market value, or renew our lease for an additional 5 years at a greatly reduced cost, or remove the system. No matter how you look at it, we couldn't find a single reason not to proceed with the program. 1) There were no out-of-pocket costs and we now have a small, locked-in monthly price for our electricity - our monthly lease payment plus whatever CL&P is going to charge us to mail us a net metering bill (which should be zero energy use averaged over the course of a year, 2) Talk about "green"...how more efficient can you be than to use power at the point of generation - no losses in transmission and it's CLEAN power, and 3) we hope that technological advances and lower costs for these systems will be a reality in 15 years and we'll have many options when our lease is up. We used Alteris Renewables, and were exceedingly pleased with their professional installation. Right now our system has been inspected by the local official and CL&P showed up today to install our "net meter" that will spin in both directions. It's our hope that we will be able to flip the switch ON any day now and start producing clean, free power. What a liberation!
UPDATE: Today we received approval from CL&P to turn on the inverter and start receiving power from our panels. So at daybreak tomorrow morning we'll flip the switch with a toast over coffee and waffles.