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Living with solar panels in California: The $11 power bill

Posted by: Adam Aston on June 24, 2009

There’s a fascinating, deep-dive on one home owner’s experience with solar energy over at (see link below).

Loyd Case installed about 6 kw or about 27 panels on his rooftop in northern California. He writes about the installation process and what the power bill looks like: after about three weeks, it totals $11.34 and is likely to end the month at $16. If so, that will be just 5% of his $300 bill from a year before.

I get scores of questions from readers and friends in New York asking about the process of installing solar panels and what the finances look like. This write up answers a lot of those questions well. Admittedly, it’s California — one of the most aggressive markets in terms of incentives such as time of day pricing for solar. But many states including New Jersey, New York and in the South West are adopting similar policies.

Are you thinking about installing solar? If so, what’s the biggest barrier preventing you from doing so: A lack of information? Or a lack of skilled installers? Or is it the high upfront costs?

“Going Solar Power: One Month Later” by Loyd Case

Reader Comments


June 25, 2009 4:53 PM

I know it's not quite fair to compare a freestanding house with a two-bedroom apartment, but I'd like to put in a plug for good old fashioned reduction and conservation. When I lived in the aforementioned two-bedroom apartment in Washington DC, our electric bill never once topped $12 per month over the course of about 6 years. We even managed to have several bills under $5/month. And I might add we (various roommates over the course of the 6 years) were living happy, fulfilling, youthful lives at the time. Caveat: it could well be that DC's electric rates at the time were unusually low. Just guessing that that might be a contributing factor. Even still, I think the point still holds.


July 2, 2009 11:53 AM

PS: now that I do have my own house, and despite my efforts at conservation, I'd love to add some solar power--especially solar hot water (by far the most cost-effective and energy-effective solar option). However, there's the problem of a beautiful sugar maple tree growing due south of the house. It's shade means my roof is useless for solar systems, and I'm not prepared to cut the tree down to make room for a solar array.

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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