Last summer, solar installers Empowered Energy Systems of Hotchkiss were busy installing 23 new solar PV systems, contracted through Solarize North Fork Valley. Totally 120 kW, these projects joined the more than 300 other net-metered systems on DMEA’s grid. Add to this number the City of Delta Utility’s solar-powered homes and businesses and the countless off-grid systems throughout the county, and it’s clear that more than ever Delta County neighbors are going solar.
Part of this is explained by costs. The cost of solar has dropped 70% since 1998, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study from 2015. At the same time, more local banks are offering financing, recognizing that not only does solar PV increase home property value (it is also excluded from property tax evaluations), it also allows customers to save on their energy bills. That money can in turn help repay loans. Ask Alpine Bank, Delta County Federal Credit Union or Empowered Energy Systems about their loan options!
Financial sense is what allows you to sign your name on the dotted line. But what about the motivations that first spur a homeowner or business to ask if “going solar” right for them?
Well we asked.
At the conclusion of Solarize Round I, Solar Energy International sent a survey to all participants asking just that: Why did you choose to go solar?
Below are the top 5 reasons why more and more neighbors are going solar:
- Decrease Carbon Footprint:
In Delta County, we derive our livelihood from healthy soil and mountain water. We find solace and recreation in our canyons and mountains. We choose to live out in the Western Slope and take the role of stewards of the land to heart.
Electricity created with solar PV is emission free and carbon neutral. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study concluded that solar PV could offset the pollution generated in its mining, manufacturing, transportation and installation (embodied energy) in less than 2 years, then it’s able to produce carbon-neutral energy for the next 30 plus years!
The average system in America is around 6kW which would produce roughly 10,000 kWh a year of clean, local energy! Plugging that number to the EPA’s Greenhouse Calculator, that system would be equivalent to taking 1.5 passenger vehicles off the road each year or the carbon sequestered by 6.7 acres of forest!
Going solar is one way you choose to support not only healthy economies, but ecosystems as well.
- Support Local Power Generation
As a DMEA customer, some 7 cents of every 10 cents/kWh you pay leaves this community to cover the wholesale power costs of DMEA’s power provider Tri-State.
When you install a solar PV system on your home or business, you are supporting local energy. Each electron produced locally means one less DMEA and its members have to import and buy. With over $40 million dollars a year leaving DMEA’s service area, this means more money that stays in our communities!
Solarize is starting the conversation of how local energy can benefit our community. With our hydro, biomass and solar potential, we have the ability to produce the energy we need locally, providing models for other rural communities to do the same. Now with a FERC ruling that has paved the way for local energy generation, we can start doing just that!
Local energy means keeping electricity rates low, promoting energy independence, and creating JOBS!
- Energy Independence
It’s no secret we are a self-sufficient bunch in Delta County. We grow our own food and we even have the resources to make our own electricity! Well the coal mines have shuttered, we maintain that we are still an energy-producing valley, just one in transition.
Projects like DMEA’s South Canal micro-hydro project allow our community to become energy independent by developing the county’s energy resources. And with 300 days of sun, residents of Delta County have an opportunity to make their own energy by taking advantage of the sun.
The decision to go solar and to be net-metered to the grid allows you to make your own energy while benefiting from remaining on the grid. As a net-metered customer, local utilities will credit you at retail rate for the energy you crank out! Start making your power with Western Slope sunshine today!
- Hedge Against Rising Electricity Costs
When was the last time your electricity rate went down? There are many reasons why installing solar makes financial sense: it increases your home value, there is a generous tax credit still available and you can produce free energy once your system reaches payback (can your investment in a granite counter or new living room couch do that?).
Another appealing reason to go solar related to its financial payback is to hedge against rising electricity costs. The federal agency, Energy Information Administration, estimates that 2017’s nationwide electricity costs will be 3% higher than 2016, a rate outpacing inflation.
Investing in solar can allow you to benefit from net-metering. And as those electricity rates go up (from Tri-State to DMEA, then from DMEA to you), your payback period shortens!
- Support Local Jobs
Whether your motivation is energy independence, good economic sense, or the environment, today more of your neighbors are going solar! And the people that are busy putting up those panels, pulling the permits and designing the system are also your neighbors.
Solarize Delta County is continuing our work with Empowered Energy Systems of Hotchkiss to increase the viability and visibility of renewable energy to our community. With each contract we sign, not only are we creating more local electrons, we are creating jobs.
The hope is as more and more residents are able to access and afford local, clean energy we can create a demand the necessitates more employment.
This year Solarize Delta County saw twice as much traffic as last year’s pilot round and our installers have been busy conducting site visits and presenting proposals. We are shooting for 200 kW of solar this round, more than last year’s 120kW! At 6 new hired people last year, we hope we can create a demand that will increase local energy generation and local jobs.
There are a multitude of reasons to go solar, what might yours be? Whatever the reason we welcome you into the solar community. And thank you for supporting local, clean energy.
For more information or to participate:
Go to: http://www.solarenergy.org/solarize-delta-county/
Google: Solarize Delta County
Facebook: “like” Solarize Delta County
Call: Gerald or Marla at (970) 527-7657 ext. 213
Go Solar. Simply. Together. Solarize Delta County!
DEADLINE TO GET SOLARIZE PRICING IS AUGUST 15th