Can Solar Survive Without Government Subsidies?

20170913_113856“The solar industry is subsidized and can’t stand on it ‘s own and I just don’t believe in industries that can’t support themselves.” This is what I was told by a foundation repair guy doing an inspection of my home. Let me start by saying this employee and the company he works for are awesome, I was very impressed with this individual’s work.  His comment, however, was quite concerning to me. I responded, “Well you understand that the entire energy industry is subsidized right?”. He shrugged his shoulders as if he had no idea what I was talking about then continued to say he just does not believe in solar. For this individual’s sake and the sake of all those out there who may not fully understand, I would like to dispel any rumors out there, stick to the facts, educate people on the history of this subject, and let them make their own educated decisions.

An energy subsidy from the government is not meant to be a crutch, but a catalyst to promote new, efficient, and clean technologies in the energy sector. In the 1700’s when the coal industry was a “start-up industry” they were granted a tax-free status from the government, given incentives for smelting, and protected from outside competition by tariff’s. The coal industry, to this day, receives roughly 5 billion dollars in incentives each year.  These subsidies are not unique to the coal industry; it was estimated that in 2015 global fossil fuel subsidies reached a staggering $5.3 trillion dollars! Therefore, according to my foundation repair guy, the energy industry as a whole is unsustainable and he should not believe in anything that uses electricity!

Now that we have a little backstory to give us clarity, lets move on to the theory that the solar industry is “supported” by these subsidizes and, by my foundation repair guy’s estimate, will fail with out them. Let’s do some quick math to figure out if solar still makes sense for a homeowner if these subsidies were to go away today. The average payback period for solar, let’s say on the high end, is 9-years (some are more, some less). If we then take away the 30% federal tax benefit, in theory, it would increase the price by 30% and therefore the payback by 30%. This puts our payback at 11.7-years. This means that, considering a 25-year system, a homeowner will break even and then be saving money for over half the life (13.3 Years) of the system, or $18,620 of savings! These are better than payback periods for systems with the tax credit just a few years ago and the solar industry was doing fine.

The reality is that we live in a free market and when these subsidies go away and solar becomes 30% more expensive for the homeowner the price of the systems will not remain were they are at. The market, as it does with every other consumer product, will decide the price they are willing to buy solar at and most companies will adjust their pricing accordingly while a few others may fail. This will drop the payback period of 11.7 even lower and closer to where it currently is. As technologies continue to advance the payback for solar will eventual be less than our current payback periods (with the subsidies) which are already very attractive to homeowners and sustains the industry.

I do not want to prove such an awesome guy wrong, but do I think that the solar industry will fail without government subsidies? I guess I do if the entire energy sector, the medical industry, the transportation industry, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Nike, and Tesla all fail as well because they have received subsidies from the government. If government subsidies are a precursor to a failing industry then nearly every major company and industry in the United States is unable to stand on its own and will fail. Do you think this is the case? Will the solar industry and every other industry in the United States fail soon?
References

Coady, D., Parry, I., Sears, L., & Shang, B. (2016, November 17). How Large Are Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies? Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X16304867

Energy, S. (Ed.). (n.d.). How much will a solar electric system for my home cost? Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar-information/solar-cost

Kraemer, S. (2015, June 10). A Closer Look at Fossil and Renewable Energy Subsidies. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://michelekearneynuclearwire.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-closer-look-at-fossil-and-renewable.html

Richardson, L. (2017, September 20). How Much Do Solar Panels Save You in 2017? | EnergySage. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://news.energysage.com/much-solar-panels-save/

One Solar is NABCEP Certified!

Congratulations on obtaining your NABCEP Certification! NABCEP relies on its certificants to promote the value of the credential to the public and potential customers. You’ve earned it, now it’s time to let the world know. The following sample press release is provided for your use. Please modify as appropriate by placing your own quote and information about your business in the spaces below. Then send it to your local newspapers, radio stations, magazines, TV stations, bloggers, etc.; post on social media sites; and place the article on your company’s website. The more people hear about your achievement and what it means, the more likely they are to choose you over your competitors.   

Local Solar Professional Earns Industry’s Most Prestigious Certification

For Immediate Release 12/11/2017

Woodscross, Utah

Stan Funk, Installer at 1 Solar has earned the solar industry’s leading recognition of installation expertise from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP®), and is now a NABCEP Certified PV Installation ProfessionalTM. NABCEP is the most highly respected and well established national certification organization for renewable energy professionals. Designation as a NABCEP PV Installation Professional is widely recognized to be the most important and meaningful certification of its kind in the solar industry.  

PV is short for photovoltaic. PV systems produce electricity from sunlight. Most people have used a solar powered calculator or garden light, and seen solar panels on roadside signs, but PV panels can be configured to produce enough energy to power a home, school, business, or even serve as a small power plant feeding electricity into the grid. As the cost of PV systems has declined sharply over the last few years, more and more households, municipalities, and companies are “going solar.” NABCEP is a mark of quality assurance that the consumer can use to know that they are choosing a qualified contractor.    

“Receiving NABCEP’s PV Installation Professional Certification is personally very satisfying,” said Stan.  “More important it means I can offer my customers the added confidence of knowing that their photovoltaic system installations will be completed to the highest standards in the solar industry.”   

To earn his NABCEP certification, Stan was required to first document relevant education and experience related to PV system installation. Then he had to pass a rigorous exam that covers the breadth of the multi-craft knowledge, skills, and abilities required to competently design, install, and maintain PV systems. The exam assesses knowledge on subjects as diverse as electrical and mechanical system design, job site safety, the National Electrical Code, roofing and construction techniques, and system maintenance and troubleshooting.

“One thing you can be assured of when hiring a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional is that your project won’t be their first,” said Richard Lawrence, Executive Director of NABCEP.  “Anyone who makes the considerable effort required to earn NABCEP certification has documented their training and experience as part of the eligibility process.  They have also made a very real commitment to upholding high standards of ethical and professional practice.  I am delighted to welcome Stan Funk of 1 Solar to the ranks of the industry’s leading solar professionals.”

For more information contact 1 Solar at (801) 317-8444 or visit them at https://www.1solar.com/.

About 1 Solar

1 Solar is an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) company based in Woodscross, Utah. They have done thousands of installations from St. George to Logan and have many years of experience selling, installing, and engineering Photovoltaic Solar systems. 1 Solar’s mission is to provide affordable solar solutions to homeowners who wish to save money and the environment.

About NABCEP

NABCEP is a non‐profit organization governed by a board of directors consisting of volunteer representatives of the solar industry, NABCEP certificants, renewable energy organizations, state policy makers, educational institutions, and the trades. NABCEP’s mission is to develop and implement quality credentialing and certification programs for practitioners by supporting and working closely with stakeholders in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. To learn more visit http://www.nabcep.org.

Congratulation Stan!

How to Choose a Solar Company

Bastian PVIn Recent years, the state of Utah has become saturated with solar companies.  There are 52 companies that are registered and listed with the Utah Solar Energy Association and approximately another 43 which are not. With 95 Solar companies throughout the state, it can be difficult to find which ones will give you a quality product, perform the installation properly, and be around to service the system for years to come.

With 95 solar companies in Utah installing different products, which each claiming they are superior to their competitor’s products, it is very important for the consumer to do their due diligence and research the products each company proposes to install. There are a few factors to consider when selecting a solar panel and inverter (or inverters) that will be on your home for 25 years. A question of growing importance for homeowners, as some manufacturers struggle to keep the doors open, is “Will this equipment manufacturer be around to honor their 20-25 year warranty?”. This question is hard to answer regarding many newer manufacturers in the industry, but it is a safe bet that manufacturers such as Hyundai and LG, who have been around for years, will likely not be going out of business soon. Also, as with any big purchase, it is important to research some specifications and reviews on the product the company intends to install on your home and make sure it is something you are comfortable having there for 25 years. Another consideration, regarding the product, would be the aesthetics of the product; panels can have silver frames, black frames with white in the panel, or be all black. Aesthetics is very important to many consumers because, once installed, you will be looking at this system on your home for the next 25+ years.

Finding a company that will install your system properly can also be a difficult task. No sales person is going to tell you that their installers are brand new and yours is the first install they have done. One very good way to make sure you are getting a qualified installer is by finding a company who has a NABCEP certified installer. While there are plenty of quality installers without this certification, you can be sure they are experienced and knowledgeable if they have this certification. You can find this out by going to http://www.nabcep.org/ and clicking on the tab called “certified locator” from their you can see all the certified installers within the state of Utah and what companies they work for.

Lastly it is paramount to find a company that will be able to honor their workmanship warranty. Here at 1 Solar, we get calls everyday from homeowners that got solar from a company that has gone out of business and cannot help them with issues that come up with their system. This can leave a customer not only not saving money, but now paying two bills; 1 for the electric company and 1 for their solar loan. It may seem difficult to tell which companies are going to last, but there are some ways to gain insight. It is important to know how long the company has been in business. An alarming number of Solar start-ups fail, so if the company giving you a sales pitch is still in its infancy (first year) it is a gamble whether they will still be around if your systems needs maintenance. It is also important to look at reviews the company has received to see what other consumers experiences have been in dealing with the company.

The solar market can be difficult to navigate given the volume of companies in Utah, but if you follow these tips you will be in much better shape. Remember to always do your due diligence, get bids from multiple companies, and research their claims/products.