Derek – Belle Isle, Florida

I loved community members working together to support solar installations.

Derek – Belle Isle, Florida
Went solar with the West Orange Solar Co-op in 2015
System size: 9.62 kW

Why did you decide to go solar?

Energy efficiency and lessening our impact have been priorities for my wife and I for some time. We moved into our first home in 2009 and immediately began energy upgrades, ultimately cutting our bill significantly. On the dream list was always adding solar panels. However, due to new additions to our family we moved two years ago and had to start the process all over again! Going solar in our new house wasn’t on the immediate need list as we had a lot of other upgrades to do first that we started right away. When the co-op came around, I had already been researching several do it yourself solar install packages, and been looking to shift one of our cars to an EV, so it was perfect timing.

Why did you opt to go solar with a co-op?

Ultimately, it was the price and the idea of members of the community getting together to support multiple installs across the area. When the installer quoted a price inclusive of installation I was shocked, since it was less per watt than I was looking at for DIY panels that I would have had to install myself!

What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?

Solar is just one piece of your energy puzzle. Take a look and understand your homes usage before jumping in. High efficiency water heaters, high SEER heat pumps, LED bulbs, etc can all have a significant impact on your usage and your power bill. If you foresee any significant shifts in your life factor those in as well – such as a child leaving home reducing your usage, or the addition of an electric vehicle.

Also, there is no requirement to go in all or nothing. When working with your installer if you would like to invest in solar now to cover a portion of your bill with the option to expand later, share that with them. We decided to cover as much of our bill as we could at the time of the install but still leave room to add additional panels on in the future to finish covering 100% of our usage.

What surprised you most about the process?

How much education is needed out within the community to the benefits and availability of solar. When we decided to go solar our families and friends both in state and out asked a lot of questions, with the top being “why” and “whats the benefit”? Some of those family members even lived in states where solar leasing is accessible to them and weren’t aware. If you are interested in going solar and reading this, do what you can to spread the word!

Can you share with us your monthly energy savings? How much did you pay for electricity before and how much do you pay now?

In the past three months and one week since our system has been live it has generated 4.49 megawatts of energy, equating to $584 of power generated at my $0.13 per kWh rate. Overall with our other energy improvements our power bill has decreased by 63% per month compared to last year.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Understand your power rates before sitting down with an installer, as it impacts your return period. For example our high rate is $0.13 per kWh above 1,000 kWh of utilization per month, with a lower rate for the first 1,000 kWh. Our system will cover most if not all of the usage above 1,000 kWh, and as we continue to expand with additional panels the return time will just be a bit longer.