Sue & Steve Ochs
East Valley Solar Co-op, Tempe, AZ
System size: 4.875 kW
Don’t procrastinate, use a co-op, talk to your friends and neighbors. We wish we had installed solar panels many years ago.
Why did you decide to go solar?
We have always wanted to have solar panels, knowing solar energy is logical in our desert environment. We knew climate change is a real and urgent problem and we will only fix it by doing everything we can. We finally had the resources to invest and knew we were going to stay in this house for ten years or more. We had to replace our roof this year and the solar co-op gave us the incentive to do it all at once.
Did anything surprise you about going solar?
There was more paperwork and it took longer than we expected. Shade trees can be a problem and I was glad that ours is not so big or full to affect the area where they put the panels. It didn’t take a large number of panels to create a significant amount of power. We were disappointed that battery storage technology isn’t advanced enough or cost effective enough for us yet. We are planning for an electric car next, and are watching technological developments. Working with the co-op was much less stressful than going on our own.
What benefits did you experience going solar with a co-op?
I didn’t want the lengthy burden of searching for reliable companies and analyzing the pros and cons of each, and feeling nervous that they would go under and we’d be stuck. We liked the shared risk of being with other buyers. We felt the cost was reasonable and they worked with our roofing company.
Do you have any data about your solar system performance? What electricity savings have you seen since going solar?
Our bill was 40% less in the first month. We can go online to track the performance and it’s impressive to see how much power we generate.
What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?
Don’t procrastinate, use a co-op, talk to your friends and neighbors. We wish we had installed solar panels many years ago. It helps to talk to people who have recently installed solar in your area as the utility companies are actively changing the rules, and the tax refunds are different city by city. Be prepared to trim trees to eliminate shade. We hired a tree trimmer to adjust our large Palo Verde tree, so it looks good without casting shade on the panels. Some will express negativity about solar, they say it’s expensive, or hear horror stories about companies that go under. Be prepared to pay fully, or finance, don’t lease. The energy savings are showing every month, and they add up.