Energy Benefits Yolo Program: Solar FAQ

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1 Energy Benefits Yolo Program: Solar FAQ Please visit Program Questions What is Energy Benefits Yolo? The Energy Benefits program is an effort of the Yolo Climate Compact and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA to encourage the adoption of residential solar energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades in Yolo County, while helping participants save money and green their homes. Do I have to live in Yolo County to participate? No, while the Energy Benefits Yolo program is open to all Yolo County homeowners, it is also available to residents employed by an organization within Yolo County but living in an adjacent community. Please note that the program pricing is based on services provided throughout Yolo County and adjacent communities (ex. Sacramento, Solano County, etc.). As a result, if you re interested in solar or energy efficiency upgrades at a location some distance away from Yolo County, there may be additional travel costs involved or may be outside of the contractors service area. Please register with the address you would like a quote for, and REC Solar and/or Brower Mechanical will work to determine a cost to provide service at that location. How does the program work? Through this program, participants have access to exclusive discounts for home solar electric installations and energy efficiency improvements (including solar hot water). Please visit the Energy Benefits Yolo web page and register for a free solar consultation (electric and SHW) and/or a reducedcost energy efficiency assessment. Representatives from REC Solar and/or Brower Mechanical will call you to discuss the best options for you and will provide quotes that reflect the program pricing and incentives. Do I need to sign up for both solar and energy efficiency? No, you are welcome to sign up for any combination of solar electric, solar hot water, and energy efficiency assessments. How long do I have to sign up? Program registration is open until June 30th. However, the discount remains the same during the entire program timeframe, so there s no additional benefit to waiting. The earlier you get started, the sooner your solar system and/or home energy effiency upgrades will help you start saving on your utility bills. Who is REC Solar? An evaluation committee consisting of employee representatives from the participating cities and county selected REC Solar as the solar vendor for this program through a competitive bid process. Founded in 1997, REC Solar is one of the most experienced solar electric system providers in the U.S. REC has built more than 7,000 systems ranging in size from individual residences to multi-megawatt utility projects. With a focus on quality, professionalism and service, REC Solar has become a trusted market leader. 1

2 REC Solar is committed to providing Energy Benefits Yolo participants with quality systems and service for the life of the systems. If I sign up for a free solar consultation, is there any obligation? No. During the free home solar consultation with REC Solar a representative will evaluate your home s suitability for solar electricity and explain your options. There s no commitment to purchase or lease a solar system. What are the benefits of installing solar through this program vs. working with the vendor on my own? Energy Benefits Yolo is pooling the collective buying power of the group to provide you with a pre-negotiated discount that is 15-20% off the current average installation cost in the Yolo County market. A wealth of statistics on the cost and average system size can be found on the State s California Solar Initiative program website: cost_vs_system_size/ An evaluation committee composed of volunteers vetted the quality of products, warranties, customer service, experience and longevity of multiple solar firms, along with proposed system pricing. You can be sure that we have done a lot of the backend work for you to make this process simple and cost effective. Home Solar Questions Why Solar? Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect and is one of the fastest growing forms of residential renewable energy used in the U.S. This program offer not only includes discounted equipment and financing options, but will also help you take advantage of federal and state incentives that can make solar power an affordable clean energy solution. How does a Solar Electric system work? A solar electric system is also called a photovoltaic array or PV system. (Photo = light and Voltaic = energy). Solar PV panels made of semiconductor material (primarily crystalline silicon) capture sunlight and convert it to direct electric current (DC). In order to change DC power to safe alternating current (AC) that can be used in your home to power anything plugged into an outlet, REC will also install an inverter as a part of your system. The system is then connected to your electrical panel (or electrical box) for distribution throughout your house. If your system generates extra power, it will return to the utility grid and you will receive a bill credit that you can use later in the year, when you re using more than you re producing (e.g. during the winter months). How many solar panels will I need for my property? The number of panels required for a home depends primarily on the amount of electricity currently used in the home, so each home will be different. Register for a free solar consultation at the Energy Benefits Yolo webpage and an REC consultant will calculate how many panels you need based on your last 12 months of electricity usage and amount of roof space you have available. What is the warranty on the solar panels? REC is offering program participants a choice of solar panels, each with a 10- year factory warranty on all materials and a 25-year energy production warranty. If you choose to lease, all the equipment is covered by a replacement warranty for the full term of the lease and you ll also receive maintenance and monitoring for free. How do I know if my roof is suitable for solar? Solar works on many kinds of roofs, ideally those that are in good condition, don t have issues with shade and preferably face south, southwest or west (to capture the most sun throughout the day). If my roof is shaded, does that make a difference? Shade reduces the amount of electricity your system can produce. 2

3 Register for a free solar consultation at the Energy Benefits Yolo webpage and an REC representative will assess your roof, analyze the potential for shading, and design your system to maximum sun exposure, although some roof locations may be too shady to make solar feasible. How much maintenance is required? Solar PV systems generally require very little maintenance. Light cleaning once or twice a year to remove excessive dust and debris is typically all that is needed. The inverter that converts DC current to AC is warrantied for years (depending on the model chosen), and will likely need replacement sometime during the operating life of the panels. If you choose to lease a system, maintenance is included as part of the lease agreement. How does a solar PV system increase the value of my property? According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), homes with solar systems sell for a premium compared to homes that don t have them. LBNL evaluated home sales from and contrasted the sale price of homes with solar systems and without. On average, PV systems added $5.50 per watt to a home s value. So with a 1 kilowatt (kw) system, a home is worth about $5,500 more another great reason to install solar on your house! Will I have power during a blackout? No. To ensure safety during a blackout for you and the electric company s employees, your system s inverter will shut down automatically. When power is restored to the grid your system will resume normal operation. What rebates and other incentives are available? There is currently a 30% federal tax credit that you can claim on your income tax return next year, or roll over into future years (the tax credit is incorporated into the total cost if you choose to lease your system). In addition, state rebates may be available. The state rebate program has proven wildly successful at spurring solar development, and those incentive funds will be exhausted at some point in Register for a free solar consultation at the Energy Benefits Yolo webpage and REC will develop a customized proposal for your home location and energy use that will include all incentives that may apply to you. Solar Financing Questions What financing options are available under this program? Is leasing also available? Through this program, you can purchase a system and own it today or you can lease a home solar system through REC Solar and their partner SunRun for 20 years. When you register at the SF SunShares program webpage, you may indicate your interest in owning, leasing, or exploring both options. Through SunRun, REC Solar offers a lease with a low down payment, and monthly payments designed to be lower than what you would otherwise pay your utility for power meaning you can start saving money on your electric bills from the day you switch to solar. Another option, the fully Prepaid Lease, lets you cover 100% of the 20-year lease cost up front with your own source of financing or cash, while benefitting from the maintenance and monitoring included with a lease. This option lets customers take advantage of the lowest overall cost of energy, particularly if you already have access to a low-cost financing option such as a mortgage or home equity line of credit. What s included in the lease? The SunRun Solar Lease provides homeowners an easy way to go solar Get started for as little as $0 down and start saving money from Day 1 Performance guarantee ensures that your system produces the energy promised or your money back Free system maintenance and monitoring Insurance against both damage and theft Early lease buyout options at fair market value prices Online credit decisions 3

4 What options do I have under a lease at the end of the 20-year term? At the end of the lease, homeowners can: At the end of the lease, homeowners can: Renew the lease, Purchase the system, or Return the equipment What if I sell my home during the term of the lease? At the end of the lease, homeowners can: Renew the lease, Purchase the system, or Return the equipment Other Common Questions How large does my electric bill need to be to save with solar? Financial savings from solar primarily accrue by offsetting the higher-priced tiers ($.30/ kwh and up) found in many residential rates, which are generally reached when your bill hits about $75 (500kwh) / month. For more information on PG&E rates click here. If your electric usage is below that amount, your motivation for going solar may need to be based on more than just economics. What if I own a condominium or Tenancyin-Common (TIC)? Solar may only be installed on multi-unit residential buildings (with multiple owners) in one of two ways. The first method is to install solar and use the generated electricity for any common area electric-usage, like hallway or landscape lighting. In this instance, the solar system would be owned by the homeowners association (HOA) itself and would be considered a commercially owned solar system. The second method involves installing individual systems that benefit specific electric meters on specific units. In this case, while the HOA wouldn t own the solar system itself (which would be owned by the owner of the unit it supplies), the HOA would need to give written approval and authorization to have the solar equipment (including panels, external conduit/wiring, and electrical boxes) installed on any commonly-owned surface, including the roof and building walls. As an example, the owner of a condominium in a 6 unit building could not install solar without the approval of the HOA (or other organization) that owns the roof and exterior walls, since condominium owners typically only own the space they reside in. This type of owner-approval is a standard solar industry requirement, as REC Solar or any other contractor will need to have permission from the legal property owner to perform work on a building. Please note: any building with more than one unit, even those with a single-owner, are not eligible for third-party leasing through SunRun. What if I m a renter? Only the legal owner of a property may enter into a contract to purchase or lease a solar installation. If you rent your home, and the owner is interested in going solar, they may register on the program webpage, courtesy of your eligibility. Please have them include the information identifying you as the tenant and your organizational affiliation in the referral notes section of the registration page. Additionally, as you the tenant may benefit from the reduced electricity bill, you will need to discuss with your landlord/owner how to handle future utility payments. Your local rent board may have more information on how to address that particular financial arrangement. Please note: any building with more than one unit, even those with a single-owner, are not eligible for third-party leasing through SunRun. Is there a minimum size for the solar system? The minimum size solar system that can be installed under the program is 2.5 kw in order for the system to work properly. This size system would cover all the electricity demand of a home that is currently paying about $40/month on their electricity bill. 4

5 How can I learn more about the program? Workshops are being scheduled throughout Yolo County and will be posted on the News tab of the Energy Benefits Yolo program webpage. Participating Partners Or contact: Please Note: The Energy Benefits Yolo Program, sponsored by the Yolo Climate Compact, is currently being offered to participants in their individual and personal capacities. While the Energy Benefits program is being promoted by organizations throughout Yolo County, the organizations themselves do not in any way sponsor or endorse this program. Any participant who enters into the Energy Benefits program does so in his/her personal capacity and at his/her own risk and will expressly hold the participating organizations harmless from any liability associated with his/her decision to participate in this program for services for his/her personal, non-work related projects.. 5

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