Thursday, July 25, 2013

Solar, part 2

Well, we got our quote from Sunlight Solar. They are substantially more expensive than SunBug’s proposal, but I also learned a bit more about SRECs and solar finances.

Both companies agree that SunPower panels are much better than everyone else’s panels at the moment. SunBug wants to use the previous generation panels, and Sunlight Solar wants to use the current generation panels.

Sunlight Solar projects about 7% less production than SunBug, which seems reasonably consistent to me given the number of variables.

SunBug said that there’s a price floor of $300 on SRECs. Sunlight Solar says that there is no floor, because the last chance auction isn’t guaranteed to work. Turns out that’s true, which substantially changes the finances. And I’m not thrilled about SunBug lying to me on a huge issue like this. Some folks in the industry think that the last chance auction price of $300 is going to act as a ceiling rather than a floor, and that $150 per SREC is a more likely long-term price. That’s a loss of about $8000 over 10 years from SunBug’s numbers.

And even worse, the current unpredictable SREC scheme is only guaranteed to be available for systems that are approved for interconnection by December 31. After that, systems will likely earn even less with SREC 2, whose rules aren’t set. SunBug won’t guarantee installation by December 31, and is lying to customers about the implications of that deadline.

Meanwhile the city is not being at all cooperative about potential future shade problems from their tree. I would have expected them to understand this issue, since they’re pushing the solar program city-wide and many houses have city-owned trees at least in front.

I still want to install solar if it’s financially reasonable to do so and if we can clear the other hurdles. But the forecast isn’t very sunny.

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