As electric rates increase in Bay Area, solar energy provides customers with cheaper option

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Solar energy providing cheaper option

Allie Corey reports

It’s the worst day of the month for many consumers: The arrival of the electric bill. 

“I didn’t want to open that thing. I knew it was going to be huge,” said Daniel Bellinger, who lives in Apollo Beach.

But, he’s doing something about it. Bellinger is installing solar panels on his new home. It’s a feature he had on his old house.

While waiting on his new installation, Bellinger got a single non-solar electric bill. 

“The electric bill was $400, and I never want to go through that again,” Bellinger laughed.

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This year, consumers have seen electric rates skyrocket. Causing many to ask, “Is solar right for me?”

“I think a lot of customers are feeling pain on their power bills right now,” said Brett Emes, owner of SEM Power, a solar energy company in Tampa that’s been busy.

He said first and foremost, shade may keep your house naturally cooler, but it’s no good for solar panels.

“It definitely needs good sun exposure. So, that’s one of the major criteria,” said Emes.

A system on a 2,000-square-foot home is around $20,000, he said. But homeowners qualify for a federal tax credit, which right now sits at 30%.

It was a significant selling point for Bellinger. 

“You think about how much these solar systems cost. If you can drop 30% of that cost, now we’re talking about cost-effectiveness,” he said. 

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But remember, the 30% savings is a tax credit, not a rebate. You only qualify if you’re paying income taxes, so retirees may not qualify.

The next thing to consider is the condition of your roof.

Emes said panels will last 25 years. 

“So, we don’t want to put solar on a roof that’s 10 or 15 years old,” he said. 

Removing panels and reinstalling them for a new roof will cost thousands. The direction of your roof doesn’t matter so much with Florida’s abundant sunshine, but the size does.

“Large two-story homes are tough or more difficult because you have a higher energy consumption with a smaller roof space,” said Emes.  

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And lastly, it’s essential to know solar panels will not eliminate your bill.

A monthly connection fee can run around $20 and Floridians use a lot of power, especially in the summer.

“At the previous house, my highest electric bill with two electric vehicles was probably a hundred bucks in the summer,” recalled Bellinger.

Which, he said, is still hundreds of dollars in savings. 

A number that made this decision an easy one. “As electricity gets more expensive here in Tampa, it just became increasingly more apparent that it was imperative to make this move.”

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