Installing solar panels could save thousands of dollars

Contrasting public beliefs that solar panels are far too expensive for the average homeowner to install, a report released this week quantifies the great economic benefits of doing so.

Published by the Environment California Research and Policy Center, the report demonstrates that installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems protects customers from volatile energy prices.

Other benefits to be gained include reduced air pollution, reduced dependence on imported natural gas, and a reduced need for expensive upgrades to electric transmission and distribution systems.

As part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs initiative, incentive programmes such as rebates and net metering compensate solar home owners for the initial cost of installation, due to the huge benefits that they bring to their home state as a whole.

“The bottom line is solar power is a smart investment for everyone, homeowners and ratepayers,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for Environment California Research and co-author of the report.

“Our research shows that with the right policies and incentives, installing a solar PV system on a new home can save the average homeowner more than a thousand American dollars.”

The report used a National Renewable Energy Laboratory economic model in analysing the cost and benefits of installing a solar PV system on a new home built in California’s fastest growing areas, assuming that the homeowner would receive a grant of at least US $2,800 per kilowatt.

On average, the model showed savings to the homeowner of over US $4,500 over the lifetime of the solar investment, with savings of US $68 in the first year.

“By providing incentive in the near term for installing solar, the state can reap public benefits such as clean air and energy independence, while helping the bottom line of homeowners,” Ms Del Chiaro concluded.

The report was released at the Solar Summit this week, hosted by the state Department of Resources and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

By Jane Kettle

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