Answering some Questions About Solar in Charlottesville

If you’re thinking about adding solar to your home in Charlottesville, this is a useful 6 minute video from Sigora Solar that answers quite a few questions about the process – how long does installing solar take? How much does it cost? What do you need to do to maintain solar panels?

Solar in Charlottesville

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh7xIhWhwpA&feature=youtu.be

Transcription

From Rev.com

 

Jim:
Who are you?

Jeff Hegeman:
Jeff Hegeman, Sigora Solar. How you doing?

Jim:
Cool. What are we doing here?

Jeff Hegeman:
So we’ve checked out the home in question in regards to see whether it’s viable for solar. Definitely has a good roof space and good roof planes for solar, so I’ve already taken all of my pictures, I’ve gone in the attic to make sure that the structure is adequate, which it is, checked out the breaker panel. Everything seems to be good there, as far as some space, because we will need some breakers to add in, as well as the electric meter. So everything looks good. I’m going to go ahead and put together a quote based on what I’ve seen here. I think Jim’s going to get some data from the previous tenants, as far as what their electric usage was, so I can size the system appropriately. And then we’ll go from there. I should have that quote within the next probably 24, 48 hours.

Jim:
What’s the timeframe from if they say, “Let’s do it,” and tomorrow they sign the contract, what’s the timeframe for one, getting on site, and two, to complete the install and turn it on?

Jeff Hegeman:
Okay. So first step is to do, I’m doing a mini field verification right now. We’ll do some design and engineering work, apply for permits through the county and the city, then project completion would probably be about four weeks. The last step in the project is waiting upon the power company, which would be Dominion Energy in this case, to swap out the meter for what’s called a bi-directional meter. That’s something that we really have no control over, but they have a 30 day window to do that once the system is up and installed. So there could be a lag time between the system being installed and it being activated. We work pretty well here with Dominion, so we see roughly anywhere between a week to three weeks. We don’t usually see that four week window happen.

Jim:
So it’s May 2019. Is there any reason, like a sense of urgency, to get this done sooner rather than later? Can they wait a couple years?

Jeff Hegeman:
Yeah. I mean, you can wait a couple of years, but there is a federal tax credit that is offered from the government at 30% right now. So 30% of the total system cost, just arbitrary numbers, if it were $30,000 that’s a $9000 essential rebate from the federal government, netting you in at $21,000. At the end of this year, that 30% actually degrades to 26%, and does so four percent every year thereafter. So if you’re going to do solar, 2019’s the year to do it to get the full rebate or tax credit from the federal government. I mean, we don’t want to miss out on any handouts, right?

Jim:
Exactly. Any questions that they should be asking that you hear folks consistently pose?

Jeff Hegeman:
Yeah. Maintenance. Is there any maintenance with the system? No, system is literally a set it and forget it type model. Sits on the roof, it’s … Mother Nature takes care of any cleaning that needs to be done. We warranty the install for 10 years, so the labor and our workmanship is warrantied. The panels themselves are warrantied for 25 years by the manufacturer, so these things are, they’re literally meant to sit up there and just bake. So there’s really nothing you need to do from that standpoint. As far as the tax credit goes, it’s simply just applying a 5695 form to your federal taxes, whether you have an accountant that does that for you or you do it for yourself. Either way, it’s easy to do. Just plug in the gross system cost and it’ll calculate itself. I mean, that’s pretty much, maintenance is really the big one, and then warranty’s the other big questions that people ask about.

Jim:
I didn’t ask you this before, but I’ll hit it with you anyway. Batteries, storage?

Jeff Hegeman:
Yeah, so we utilize something called net metering in the state of Virginia. So what that means is that we put the system on the roof, the system generates power, that power is pumped down into the home, the home consumes whatever it needs. Typically, there’s going to be an excess of that power. That power’s actually back fed out into the grid through something called a bi-directional meter, or net metering. The power company is mandated by the law to give you a one to one kilowatt hour credit. At night, when you’re pulling back from the grid because the system’s not producing any power, you’re actually pulling from that bank of credits that you’ve already created, therefore not paying for anything. So the way you have to look at this is that the power company’s essentially your battery. We can facilitate a battery install, if the client should want one, but I personally think they’re a little expensive and they do need to be replaced every eight to 10 years. And so just to give you an idea, it’s about $10,000 to power a refrigerator and a couple other circuits, and you may lose power a couple times a year.

Jeff Hegeman:
Is that worth it? If it is to you, totally can do it. But I personally think it’s, economically it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do so. But we can facilitate that.

Jim:
Anything else?

Jeff Hegeman:
No. I mean, Sigora’s a local company. We’ve been around since 2011. We’ve done a lot of the installs, over 50% of the installs in the state of Virginia. So we’re fully bonded, insured, and have our NABCEP certification, so there’s-

Jim:
What’s that? What?

Jeff Hegeman:
NABCEP.

Jim:
What’s that?

Jeff Hegeman:
It’s North American Board Certification of Electrical Professionals. So we use our own in-house guys to do our jobs. We have our own master electricians on staff, all sorts of stuff. We also will be doing some energy efficiency work in the home, as well. I don’t get to highlight all of this when I send out the quote. There’ll be some links and things for people to look at, and how our process is, as well. There’s a digital booklet, kind of.

Jim:
Last thing, you talk about shading?

Jeff Hegeman:
Yeah, so there are a couple of trees that may pose some threat. This one may not be so much, but it’s these two big guys across the street, particularly the one on the right. This one probably will only hit shade in the late evening hours, and by that point, your system would have generated enough power. So what we look for is about six hours of sun penetration on the panels. We’re going to get that here. I mean, if you look at the roof right now, it’s baking, right?

Jim:
Cool. That’s it. Appreciate it.

Jeff Hegeman:
Thanks a lot.

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