1.How do I save money by going solar?
When a solar array is installed on your nonprofit, the electricity it produces is free for the nonprofit. The return on your investment will come from reduced electricity bills to the utility.
On average, one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity for a nonprofit in Long Island will cost $0.18. For example, say that your nonprofit installs 100 solar panels (30 kW), and the panels produce 36,000 kWh per year. At $0.18/kWh, your nonprofit would save $6,480 per year. As the price of electricity rises each year, the nonprofit saves more money over time.
2. How much does a solar array cost?
By bundling multiple projects, and putting them out for bid collectively, we estimate that the full development, engineering, procurement and construction process for a typical nonprofit’s solar array of 100 panels (30 kW) will cost $70,000 – $77,000.
3. When will the solar panels to be installed?
We are planning for installation in late 2018 or early 2019. Once all financing, permitting, and engineering work is complete, the actual installation process only takes 1-3 days. Once the panels are installed, the utility will come out in a few weeks to approve the system, and flip the switch!
4. How long will the equipment last? How long are the warranties?
The warranty on the panels will be 25 years. However, solar panels often outlive their warranties and last 25-30 years in total. The electric inverter will be warrantied for 12 years, with the option to purchase an extended warranty. Inverters are generally expected to last 12-15 years before they need to be replaced, so the 20 year warranty would likely cover one replacement that would lead to at least 25 years of operation. (The electric inverter converts the solar electricity from direct current [DC] to alternating current [AC].)
5. Who installs the solar system?
Resonant Energy and LIPC will carry out a competitive bidding process to select a contractor from a pool of qualified Long Island installation companies. We will hire a contractor that offers the right balance of price, quality, and commitment to local workforce development. We welcome your feedback on other considerations that you would like us to take into account. All contractors are required to have at least three years of track record, and active NABCEP certification.
6. What kind of solar panels will be installed?
We only use high quality Tier 1, investment-grade panels. The specific panels we use for your system will be determined when the contractor is selected.
7. What if I have an old roof?
In order to avoid the cost of removing panels and putting them back on for a roof repair or replacement during the next 20 years, we do not recommend installing on a roof that is over 12 years old. In the event that you do need to take down the whole array for roof work, the cost of labor will likely be around $50 – $100 per panel. If you want to replace your roof in advance as part of the solar project, you can include the cost of the roof replacement in your PILP loan.
Fun Fact: Solar panels act as a barrier to the elements, which helps protect your roof from weather.
8. What if my solar array produces more electricity than I use?
We will design your solar array to fit the amount of electricity you use each year. We will do this based on an analysis of your electric bills. With this in mind, it is still likely that the amount of solar electricity generated will vary from month to month relative to your monthly usage — during some months the array will generate more electricity than you use, and during other months it will generate less. However, this will not affect your bottom line because extra electric credits carry over from month to month, so that all credits will be used over the course of the year. If you were
to have credits left over at the end of the year, the utility would buy them from you for a $0.01 – $0.04 per kWh.
9. What happens when the power goes out?
If the grid is down, the panels will not produce electricity. The panels do not act as a backup generator.
10. What happens if solar policy changes?
While solar policy is changing in New York under the recent Value of Distributed Energy Resources proceeding, these changes will not affect most nonprofits’ ability to go solar. The process described above in questions #1 and #8 is known as net metering, and it will remain in effect for solar projects connected behind the meter of electric customers that are not charged based on peak demand. Most nonprofits are not charged based on peak demand, and will therefore continue to receive net metering. If your nonprofit is charged based on peak demand, we may not be able to offer you the savings described above.
11. What happens to the tax rebates?
Unfortunately nonprofit organizations are not able to take advantage of the federal tax incentives for solar ownership, so the tax incentives for your solar array will be unused. If your nonprofit is interested in purchasing its solar array upfront with no loan, we can discuss your options for a 15% cost reduction through third party financing, a common method used by nonprofits and municipalities when going solar. However, you may be eligible for a state cash rebate that will cover about 6% of the system cost.