Withlachoochee River Electric and Solar on my Home.

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Withlachoochee River Electric Cooperative (also known as WREC) is an electric company that services customers in nine Florida counties just north of Tampa.

Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in the WREC footprint in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

Like most electric companies in Florida WREC is a net metering utility, which means that WREC customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by WREC after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.

WREC charges a $32 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.

The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken WREC longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.

How do I know all this cool stuff?

I’m a WREC customer with solar on my roof, and I’ve helped several hundred WREC customers go solar!

Ben Alexander

Director of Sales

TampaBaySolar.com

 

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The Future Of Energy?

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The state of Hawaii has more solar per roof than any other state. Since Hawaii is an island with no indigenous fossil fuel resources the state is forced to import fuel to power up the electric grid. Fuel costs drove up the price of electric, so Hawaiian homeowners adopted rooftop solar in a big way.

Solar energy production begins around 9AM, peaks at noon then diminishes until sunset. This poses a challenge to the engineers who manage the power grid, and in Hawaii Tesla has stepped forward with large battery banks that store solar during the day and redistribute the power at night.

What happens when 50 million homes all over the United States get rooftop solar in the next 20 years? Where will all that energy find storage? One solution might be to use electric cars as portable batteries during peak daytime solar production from 10AM to 3PM.

By 2030 there will be millions of full electric cars in use across the United States, and most of those vehicles will have a battery capable of storing 200 kilowatts. The average home in Florida uses about 50 kilowatts per day, and most drivers will use less than 25 kilowatts per day to power their commute, so it makes sense to use electric cars to store energy across the grid.

The existing electric companies could change their business model from the current “generate and delivery” dynamic to a more advanced “move energy from solar to cars to homes” model. As a consumer I would not mind paying a small monthly fee to the electric utility if I was able to move energy from my rooftop solar to my car and then back out to the wider energy marketplace.

Imagine an app on your phone that lets you sell the kilowatts stored in your car back to the grid based on demand at that moment in your area. Perhaps your park your car at work in a high energy-demand area, you could program the app to sell 20 kilowatts back to the grid, leaving enough charge in your car battery to get you home.

Of course, most homes and buildings will also have a large battery back-up capacity in house.

As solar goes up on homes and buildings around the globe the cost of electric will eventually drop to peanuts and the large electric companies will no longer be able to stay competitive using coal and natural gas plants that need to be staffed and fueled up.

The power grid will always be there, but the business model will shift over time.

The electric companies will probably have to outsource the technology to make this happen, so there is a billion dollar opportunity for the firm that develops this integrated technology and then sells it to the operators of the power grid.

-Ben Alexander

Director of Sales

TampaBaySolar.com

TECO and Solar on my Home.

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TECO is an electric utility that services a four county footprint in and around Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in TECO’s local footprint, mostly in the city and Tampa and the surrounding Hillsborough County area.

HALF of all the electricity distributed by TECO comes from coal burning plants that pollute the air we all breathe.

Like most electric companies in Florida TECO is a net metering utility, which means that TECO customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by TECO after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.

TECO charges a $18 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.

The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken TECO longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.

I’m very familiar with TECO because I’ve helped several hundred TECO customers go solar since 2017!

-Ben Alexander

Director of Sales

TampaBaySolar.com

 

Going Debt Free with Greentech.

This is the solar hot water heater and photovoltaic panels on my roof:

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For the last few years I’ve been teaching the “Go Debt Free” class at my church in Land O Lakes. Since 2014 I’ve personally paid off over $300,000 in debt, which is really my only qualification to teach the class!

My best student paid off $100K in debt within 2 years of taking my class.

The word “mortgage” actually comes from the French word “morte”, meaning death…. so your mortgage is really a “payment unto death”. It doesn’t have to be. You can pay off your mortgage in your 30’s or 40’s if you’re intentional about it.

I’m proud to say that my recurring monthly expenses are one third to one half my income, since I’m paid on commission which varies from month to month. My debt had been a combination of 2 mortgages, business loans, credit cards and car payments. The combined payments on $300,000 in debt was a crushing $4,200 per month. Ouch.

So what does green technology have to do with going debt free? Isn’t green technology far more expensive than standard technology?

Let’s look at cars for a minute.

When the Toyota Prius hit the market 18 years ago it cost $25,000, far more expensive than a $18,000 Toyota Camry LE model. The Prius got 48 miles per gallon, the 4 cylinder Camry got 28 miles per gallon. At $3 dollars per gallon over 100,000 miles the Prius owner will spend $6,200 on gasoline while the less efficient Camry driver will spend $10,700 at the pump.

Buying a new Prius does not make sense, but when you research the prices of a 3 year old Prius versus a 3 year old Camry (with similar mileage) the prices evened out. Most USED car buyers will own a car until it hits very high mileage (this is financially smart). As used cars you can get either model with 50,000 miles for about $16,000. Assume that you drive both cars for another 150,000 miles at $3 per gallon… the Camry driver will spend a whopping $16,000 at the pump, while the Prius driver will only part with $9,300 for gas.

What does green tech have to do with paying off debt? Take the $6,700 you will save by driving a Prius and pay down the mortgage on your home, or put that money in your child’s college fund, or just evaporate one of your credit card balances.

Most people don’t look at small recurring costs as huge long term costs. Who knew that a Camry uses $16,000 in gas over 150,000 miles? We just pay it and don’t think about it because we don’t think there is another option.

There is another cost in your life that most people are blind to because they feel powerless to get rid of it. If you own a home and pay $200 per month for electricity that’s $2,400 per year, well over $26,000 over the next decade when you factor in rate hikes and inflation.

A $150 per month electric bill is $19,000 over the next decade….

Most people think solar on your roof is far more than your electric costs. Not true since panel prices hit grid parity in 2016. A solar array that will generate $26,000 over the next decade (that’s a 10.5kW system) will cost you less than $18,000, even if you finance it. The array will evaporate a $200 per month bill and replace it with a $165 per month payment.

When the system is paid off in the next 6 years you will only pay a small monthly fee to the electric company. Currently the TECO fee is $17 per month, Duke energy’s fee is only $9.

The solar on my roof here in Wesley Chapel lowered my bill by $200 per month, $2,400 per year… my payment is only $135 per month because I put money down on the system.

Even after my solar pays for itself it will add value to my home. The panels have a 25 year warranty, so they should last decades. I’ll get my money back 3 or 4 times if I don’t move.

A few years ago I bought a 2013 Chevy Volt that runs on electricity only for the first 40 miles after a charge. This means that the solar on my roof is charging my car for FREE. The Volt only uses gasoline after the electric charge is exhausted, so there are many days when I use ZERO gasoline.

Consider your finances if you never spent another cent on gasoline… especially when gasoline goes over $4 per gallon. Some people spend $300 per month on gas alone. What if you used that $300 towards the principal on your mortgage?

By putting solar on my roof and driving a plug-in electric vehicle my costs for electricity and gas will be at least $15,000 LESS over the next decade. If I sell my home I’ll get a higher market value because of my array on the roof, especially as electric cars become more common.

You get what you focus on, you are less likely to take on silly debt when you are moving towards a debt free lifestyle. Read some Dave Ramsey books, get a notebook and start writing down your total debt numbers… as you get rid of debt your stress level will go down and you’ll find financial peace.

Ben Alexander / Sales Director for Tampa Bay Solar 813-391-3895    

Everyone asks me this.

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For the least 2 years I’ve been helping homeowners go solar all over Tampa Bay. One of the questions that I get all the time is:

“We’re in Florida, why don’t we all have solar yet?”

Here are some factors that are holding back solar in this state:

  1. People still think solar costs an arm and a leg. NOT true. Solar is cheaper than your monthly payment to the electric company. My bill went down $200 per month, the payment on my system (on a 4% loan) is $165 per month. I also got back a $7,000 tax rebate for getting a system on my home.
  2. Some folks think the ROI on solar is a million years. Again, the ROI (return on investment) for the solar array on my roof is just under 7 years. If you get a quote for a solar array and the payback is longer than 8 or 9 years you are being overcharged!
  3. What about my roof? Solar has been around since the 1980’s, if panels caused leaky roofs there would be NO solar industry. My company uses Iron Ridge roof brackets. These brackets are rated to 150mph CAT 5 hurricane winds.
  4. Plain old regressive thinking. Some people still own a flip phone, some folks like to churn their own butter. There is always resistance to new technology, even if using the old technology is more expensive.
  5. Some folks think the HOA will block solar. Not true, FL state law states that the HOA has NO SAY in whether you can put solar on your roof. This law is easy to find via Google, you do not need any clearance from your HOA to install solar, if they tell you otherwise they are breaking the law.
  6. We have a ton of renters in Tampa Bay. If the renter pays the electric bill the landlord has zero incentive to invest in solar. Landlords will spend the smallest amount to money to charge the highest amount of rent, so solar does not make sense.
  7. Credit challenges abound. The main financing option that I use requires clients to have a 700 credit score or higher. Many people are mired in debt, with a credit score below 700, and they have trouble getting financing for a system.
  8. Last but not least, a lack of long term thinking. Many people look at the monthly cost of solar and never think about the long term costs. If your TECO bill is $150 each month that’s $1800 per year and nearly $20,000 over the next decade when you factor in inflation and rate hikes.

Just as consumers were afraid to buy the Toyota Prius 15 years ago rooftop solar will become common place in the next 5 years. As more homeowners see solar going up in their subdivision they will talk to their neighbors and hopefully call me!

Ben Alexander / Sales Director for Tampa Bay Solar 813-391-3895    

Solar if you have Duke Energy

Image result for Duke energy logo

Duke Energy is an electric utility that services 7.4 million customers from Florida to Indiana.

Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in Duke’s local footprint across Tampa Bay, from up North in Citrus county and as far east as Polk County

Like most electric companies in Florida Duke is a net metering utility, which means that Duke customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by Duke after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.

Duke charges a $9 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.

The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken Duke longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.

How do I know all this cool stuff?

I’m the Director of Sales at Tampa Bay Solar, and I’ve been helping homeowners in Duke’s service area go solar since early 2017.

-Ben Alexander

TampaBaySolar.com