Is Rooftop Solar Right for You?
Dream of dropping your utility bill to zero? The often cloud-covered reality of the Pacific Northwest unfortunately makes it harder to go “off the grid,” but there are ways solar energy makes sense here.
While dropping your environmental footprint to zero can be tough, renewable resources can still help foot part of the bill. Increasingly, Clark County residents are taking advantage of available federal tax incentives, and net metering production credits to make solar energy work for them.
To decrease energy bills, after customers put solar panels on their homes, they can connect to the utility grid and become a net metering customer. The net metering program connects the customer’s power producing system to directly power their home first. Whatever the home does not require from the solar array moves into the electric grid so the homeowner receives credit when the power generated exceeds the energy used from the utility. This mostly happens during the summer, but it’s sometimes enough to help offset utility bills for the rest of the year.
Some customers want solar energy saying it’s the right thing to do; others see it as a helpful long-range environmental or financial choice. In the past decade, the utility has installed over 1,000 “net meters” for customers. Most of these were solar, but a few local residents chose wind-generation or micro-hydro renewable systems.
While costs are coming down, getting started with rooftop solar is still costly, as much as $30,000. A renewable power system means expensive equipment — an energy generator, inverters to create alternating current, supporting rooftop brackets and a sometimes a battery.
Clark Public Utilities provides options to lower your bill. Energy Counselors are available to help identify ways to make homes more efficient and reduce electric bills. To best advise customers, they want to know things like if the customer has upgraded to an energy efficient heating system, installed LED bulbs, switched to energy-efficient appliances, checked insulation levels, invested in weatherization measures and evaluated the home’s existing windows. All are things that give you quicker return on your dollar than solar. Energy Counselors are available by calling 360-992-3355 or by emailing [email protected].