Why Solar Works Where It Snows

Energy Matters0



And then the Sheriff came to town.

Regan pulled the plug and the solar tax credits that have built up the industry came to a screeching halt. Most of the companies fell off the turnip truck like an accident during harvest season. The industry in the Northeast crashed and the road was a mess.

Only a few companies survived these bleak days, usually through clever service contracts, branching out to passive solar work or creativelty partnering and developing new programs and seeking out new renewable energy opportunities throughout the region.

Now what?

Solar is back thanks to creative financing options, great rebate and tax credits, and the international support of top-notch manufacturing and material science. However, the distrust has not subsided. The burn felt from the early maelstrom of activity has not been easily forgotten.

In the Northeast, where fuel oil prices are poised to rise significantly again, where electricity rates are some of the highest in the nation and rising rapidly, there is no better time to better examine these objections than now.

1. It’s too expensive.

The cost of inaction is even more expensive, but much harder to quantify in a simple way. However, the good news is that due to the rising costs of fuel oil and electricity, the falling costs of solar equipment, and the increased level of employee training and certification for installers are all contributing to making solar much more cost effective.

Even further, financing programs like power purchase agreements (PPAs) and residential solar electricity programs like SunRun are making solar a low-cost, low-to-no-risk proposition. If you could put a complete solar electric system on your home or business for less than $3,000, would you consider doing it today?

2. It’s not reliable.

Sure as the sun comes up every morning, solar energy is there working for you. The question of reliability is really a question of “how do I know if it is actually working?” Just think, would you drive a car with no fuel gage or spedometer? The great news is many companies are offering easy-to-use and understand monitoring equipment that can help you see real time data about the performance of either your solar electric or solar hot water system. You’ll know immediately if something is wrong. In many cases, systems can automatically notify your installer of a problem before you even know. Monitoring technology has come a long way since the 1970’s to help people have a little peace of mind.

3. No one will be around to support it.

Many companies providing solar energy solutions have or are building full support and service centers to help customers understand problems with their systems or just to be there when confusion arises. Installers are improving their websites; taking notes from the successes in the IT industry and providing online databases of frequently asked questions, online support forums, user forums, and much more.

Many companies, too, are at the point where they have a significant history behind them- 10, 20, even 30 years of combined experience in installation, program management, and industry experitise. Do your homework on your installer if you are worried about whether or not they will be there for you in 5 years or 20 years.

4. We get too much snow- it doesn’t work in the winter.

Many people in the Northeast don’t realize that we have a wonderful solar resource available. In fact, Germany, arguably the world leader in acceptance and deployment of photovoltaics, receives less average solar insolation anually than the Northeast.[*]

So while it snows in the winter, just remember- after the snow falls, the sun comes out and the sky is clearer than on those hazy July days. Soon the snow will be sliding right off your panels and you’ll be back to producing clean, renewable power. The average roof pitch of most Northeast homes is quite ideal to solar installation, too, and will encourage snow to shed from panels.

Examine your objections. Make the right choice.

There are many more reasons why people object to solar power, but as the industry and its people supporting it continue to provide better service, offer better financial deals, and continue to exceed the expectations of the doubting public we hope you will join us a become another gleaming solar roof from space and a proud part of our clean energy future.