LEARN THE SOLAR BASICS
Facts: Solar technology, cost, and size
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
PROCESS FOR GOING SOLAR
OK, I’M SOLAR READY
You’re familiar with how much energy you use throughout the year. You know the basics of solar technology and have a general sense of the solar capacity for your roof. You’re ready to start thinking about the logistics for solar installation! On average, the entire process takes about 2-4 months.
HERE ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS:
1. Estimate the size, cost, and payback time for your system
Check your electricity bills from the last 12-24 months to determine how much electricity (in kWh) you use on an annual basis.
You may want to consider different sized systems that would generate 25%, 50%, 75%, or up to 100% of your annual electricity usage.
When deciding about what size system is right for you, consider:
- How much roof or ground space is available
- Your budget
- The degree to which energy efficiency improvements could cost-effectively reduce your total electricity consumption, and
- Anticipated increases to your electricity consumption. Do you plan to get an electric vehicle or convert your natural gas appliances to electric? This will add to your electricity demand, so plan accordingly.
SUN estimates that a 4kW system purchased in Indiana in 2021 will cost approximately $7,600 and generate an estimated savings of $16,500 over its lifetime (25 years), resulting in a net profit of $8,900.
SUN estimates that an 8kW system purchased in Indiana in 2021 will cost approximately $15,200 and generate an estimated savings of $33,000 over its lifetime (25 years), resulting in a net profit of $17,800.
Check out their Indiana Solar 101 webinar for more details about the calculations and assumptions.
Typical payback periods range between 10-15 years. But they will likely become longer for new projects installed after net metering changes on July 1, 2022.
The City is encouraging South Bend residents to join Solar United Neighbors and Solarize Indiana’s Northern Indiana Solar and EV Charger Co-op before it closes at the end of February 2021.
Co-op members have access to competitive pricing for individual solar systems by leveraging their buying power with one installer.
2. Solicit quotes and select an installer
The City does not endorse or represent specific products or companies. But we have tried to make it easier for you find active solar installers through MACOG’s list of local solar energy installers.
Contact several installers and ask for a quote. In general, you’ll want to compare the quotes based on 1) price per watt, 2) payback calculations, 3) production factor, and 4) type of equipment.
For more guidance on what to consider in deciding on installers, watch this video by the GW Solar Institute – where Mayor Mueller once worked!
Depending on the project’s size or your organization’s procurement policy, you may want to consider releasing a Request for Proposals. This RFP guide and template from All Points North Foundation outlines steps nonprofits should take when considering solar.
3. Research financing options
Some individuals and organizations can pay for solar projects upfront with cash. While the payback period is shorter without paying interest, you may need financing to spread the cost over time.
You might also seek out grants to reduce the upfront cost or amount borrowed.
The Energy Assistance and Solar Savings Initiative helps nonprofits and community institutions reduce utility costs and save energy. A free energy assessment, City-sponsored grants, and access to low-interest loans from a mission-driven lender are available through this program.
We encourage nonprofits to consider solar through this program.
You can get a loan or line of credit through the financial institution(s) with which you already have a relationship. Local institutions will lend money for solar, just as they would for other home improvement projects.
Financing options do not need to be specifically designed for solar, i.e. “a solar loan”, but some may offer special rates or terms.
Installers may also connect you with a financial partner. See SUN’s list of nation-wide financing options here.
Check out available incentives that will help reduce the overall cost of your system, such as the federal tax credit and USDA grants for agricultural producers.
Install your system before July 1, 2022 to benefit from net metering.
Some incentives and programs available in many other states are not available in Indiana or South Bend, such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), leasing programs, and community solar.