A Solar Experience
A story by Sheila Doran. This article is also featured in the December 2022 edition of The Ripple.
In the fall of 2012, my brother had solar panels installed on his home in central Ohio. After hearing of his experience, we decided to investigate the possibility of solar panels for our house.
Since my husband and I both grew up in the country assisting with farming and gardening, we developed an appreciation and love for nature early. As such, it was not surprising that the house we bought in 1980 was a small farmhouse on a little bit of land in western Clermont County with room for a garden and both woods, and a creek to explore. We maintained a large vegetable garden, planted trees and flowers for pollinators, and used only organic gardening methods.
As time passed and our concern for the planet increased, we wished we could make more changes to our lifestyle that would benefit and protect the environment for future generations. But we also knew we had a limited budget. One of our first larger commitments was a small hybrid car in 2011. Then, in spring 2013, we chose to invest in a solar energy system.
The reasons why included the following:
• The system would provide 75% of our electricity. This has proven true as basically we only pay electric bills during the months of December, January, and February. Shorter days and snow on the panels are not helpful!
• When we make more kWh than we use, we are given a credit paid at the same rate that Duke charges per kWh.
• The original cost was significant, but we received a 30% Federal Tax Credit on the price.
• In 2013, the state of Ohio was offering a 3% reduction on loans for renewable energy sources. With that we were able to get a 0.24% loan for the project.
• We also knew that we would be able to sell SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) which would help recover the original cost. Unfortunately, Ohio Senate Bill 310 was passed in June of 2014 which reduced the market for SRECs in Ohio. In the first two years SRECs sold for about $45 each and now only sell for $9.50, which has slowed some of our recovery.
Everything in the house is electric and we have recently switched our gasoline-powered riding lawnmower and push mower for electric ones.
If you’re thinking about going solar, you might have heard ads that said the federal solar installation tax credit was going away, but the Inflation Reduction Act (signed Aug. 16, 2022) includes an extension of the 30% tax credit through 2032.
Some other reasons include:
• The ECO-Link Program for Ohioans still provides the 3% interest rate reduction for solar loans.
• Ohio also has a solar sales tax exemption on solar equipment for homeowners. Find out more from your energy provider and solar installation company about net metering and credit for kWh produced and SRECS.
• A south, southwest, or west-facing roof would be best. Our house panels face southwest and the garage panels face southeast. However, trees that would shade the panels would possibly need to be removed. We removed a couple of small trees.
Consider how much you spend on energy and how long you plan to stay in your home. Zillow research reports that homes with solar panels sell for about 4% more than comparable homes without solar. Our installation company said that we could take the solar panels with us if we moved, though with the improvement in panels and reduction in prices since we purchased them, I’m sure we would leave the ones we have.
The Nature Center can help connect people with one another! If you have a solar energy system or want to talk to people who do, just email Connie O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know. If there’s interest, Connie will then plan a time for everyone to meet!