Mike and Marie – Boston, Virginia

Very happy to contribute to a fossil fuel free world.

Mike and Marie – Boston, Virginia
Went solar with the Upper Piedmont Solar Co-op in 2017
System size: 4.6 kW

Why did you decide to go solar?

We have been interested in solar, as well as energy conservation, for a long time. When we built our passive solar home in 2010, we designed it for solar panels, but just never made the leap. When the opportunity arose in 2017, we took it and have enjoyed the benefits of our efforts for almost a year now. We try to minimize our impact on the environment, so adding the solar option seemed like the right thing to do, and we have kilowatt hours in the bank. We are very happy about our contribution to a more fossil fuel-free world, and our 100% electric car doesn’t mind, either!

Why did you decide to go solar with the co-op?

The co-op model was instrumental to our decision. One of us serves as the general contractor for our home, so we knew of the many challenges of going out for quotes, picking the right vendor, and getting the job done. Solar United Neighbors provided this service as a part of our local co-op, and it was great not to have to worry about the details.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to go solar?

Do your homework, save money via energy efficiency, and research to understand your needs – understand your power requirements up front. Be informed. Regardless if you’re a member of a rural electric cooperative (REC) or an investor-owned utility (IOU), be informed. Know what the rules are, understand the decisions of your board of directors or governing board, and be involved.

Has anything surprised you about going solar?

It wasn’t all that easy (e.g., permits, engineering, timing, etc.) but it wasn’t that bad once we got started. We were surprised how many data points there are in an effort to really understand our system and what it produces, as well as what we consume. For many people, they just want it done and want it to work. We wanted to know how it work, when it worked, and why it worked. After a lot of questions, we were able to develop a nifty tracking sheet that helps put it all in perspective. As a result, we have gone seven months in a row with only access charges on our bill. That $15.40 is a nice number to budget with, too!

Do you have any data on your solar system’s performance?

We have collected lots and lots of data! Savings is a hard number to quantify unless you are only counting dollars; we have had significant energy savings as well. Our last eleven months of power bills certainly do tell a story, however…

$21.29, $40.44, $52.00, $29.58, $46.72, $15.40, $15.40, $15.40, $15.40, $15.40, $15.40

Our total expenditures to date (yearly total) for electricity are $282.43, and our average expenditure per month (11 months) is $25.66 per month. We do cook and heat water with propane.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our only regret is that we didn’t put up more panels than we did. We didn’t really plan for expansion, and planning for expansion, be it more panels, or a battery back-up system, or an electric car, should always be in the back (or front) of your planning process.