System size: 8.54 kW
Working with SUN was a great experience. They did ALL the heavy lifting for our Co-op: helping us build membership; handling the competitive bidding process; vetting all the bidders; and preparing a comparison spreadsheet for our review and discussion.”
Our solar story began in 2018, when we were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with the Okaloosa-Walton Solar Co-op sponsored Solar United Neighbors of Florida. Working with SUN was a great experience. They did ALL the heavy lifting for our Co-op: helping us build membership; handling the competitive bidding process; vetting all the bidders; and preparing a comparison spreadsheet for our review and discussion.
Best part: There was absolutely no risk/no cost/no commitment to join the Co-op, and no Co-op member incurred ANY cost unless and until they signed a contract to go solar with the vendor that was selected by Co-op members. SUN’s expertise and assistance enabled Co-op members to benefit from group price discounts AND have confidence we were getting the best deal from the best vendor. Thirteen of 48 Co-op members ultimately went solar (27% of Co-op members). It’s also worth noting that four members were disqualified by the installer due to not enough un-shaded roof space facing the right direction to cost-effectively employ solar.
We were the first family in our Co-op to have our rooftop solar panels installed in March 2019. Although we did not have an electric vehicle then, we included a car charger with our solar panel installation, which saved us ~$500. The decision proved important when we took the second step on our solar journey and traded in our big SUV for an Audi E-Tron in November 2020. It’s really great for commuting to work and getting around town, and can easily make the round trip from Niceville to Pensacola. We love it!
We took the final step in our solar journey (for the time being!) in December 2020, when we installed three Tesla Power Walls plus additional rooftop solar panels to generate enough electricity to power our entire home AND charge the car. This event provided a literal and figurative “bright” spot at the end of an otherwise awful year. Bonus: the Tesla app that tracks our solar energy production and our household energy usage really keeps my husband entertained.
So, why did we go solar? Frankly, we didn’t do it to save money. We moved to renewable energy to set a good example AND do our part to ensure everyone’s kids and grandkids have a decent planet to inherit. Our initial solar panel installation required a substantial investment, but our vendor (SunFarms, Pensacola) was careful to crunch the numbers and show us the most cost-effective solution for our home and our average usage—one that would pay for itself in ~8–10 years. The average system in Florida pays for itself in ~7 years, so most families could make that investment and enjoy the returns in cost savings and a healthier environment.
We decided to go the extra mile because we could. At our age (late sixties) we will not re-coup the cost of our Tesla Power Walls, but the next family that lives in our house will, and everyone will benefit from our reduced carbon footprint. Transitioning to renewable energy is the only path to a viable future for earth and its inhabitants, so keep moving forward!