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Los Altos resident shares solar story

By John Bigler, Los Altos resident

We chose to size our new PV system at 5.88 kW to fully cover our monthly electric costs.  This is not to say that we generate more kilowatts than we use, but rather, that we earn more kilowatt credits than we spend.  The secret that makes this work is during the May-October (summer) timeframe, PG&E credits us at triple rates during the daytime hours when we are producing excess electricity since this is their peak demand period and they appreciate our extra power generation during that time.  To allow me to monitor our power generation, I also asked Cobalt to install a data link from our PV system to my computer so I could retrieve live and historical power generation data at my desktop.

As an early adopter of PV technology, the net cost of our system after rebates was relatively high.  At our current rate of savings, we are expecting our Return-on-Investment (ROI) on our 25-year system to occur somewhere around 16 years (10 years from now).  For homeowners installing in 2012, the recent leaps in design and efficiency should now produce a much faster 15% to 30% ROI per year (per Cobalt’s website).  Your PV bids should show you your expected ROI timeframe based on your specific system size and electric history.

Today, our PV system has been running for almost 6 years with zero PV downtime and zero required maintenance.  All I have to do is rinse our rooftop panels about twice a year.  We are very happy we made the leap to Solar.

For more information on solar, and GreenTown’s upcoming solar group purchase program, email

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