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Go Solar! -- Oakland, California Photovoltaics

Mary S. of Oakland, California describes her experience with Save-A-Lot Solar as part of our Go Solar! series.

What went into the decision to install a PV solar system? Mary and her husband Michael began by doing some research on solar and the costs and benefits. They had a connection to John at Save-A-Lot solar who provided them with detailed information on solar PV installation, solar power, and calculations of how long it would take for its investment to pay for itself (7 years). They decided it was a “worthy investment.”

So, in summer of 2010 Mary and her husband decided “going solar is the right thing to do.”

How Mary chose a solar installer. Mary and her husband already new John at Save-A-Lot Solar. A few years earlier they had him do a smaller project (installation of a small windmill as a back-up power source), so they were familiar with the quality of his work. He provided very thorough information on the process and finances of installing solar. Compared with neighbors and friends, they knew the price could not be beat.

What was the installation process like? Solar installation was “absolutely the smoothest job ever done on our house. It was all very convenient for us.”

How were the rebates handled? The installer provided information on tax incentives and rebates to make the process as easy as possible. The initial rebate came quickly, and the family is currently in the process of claiming the tax credits. After rebates and incentives, the out of pocket cost was about $14k. According to their calculations, this will take about 7 years to pay for itself.

The energy savings. Mary admits that at times it is difficult to know what she is looking at when she reads her energy bills from PG&E. Sometimes she will have to pay a small fee for service charges or other things - up to $12 - and other months the systems produces all of the energy the family needs. The utility bill usually goes up a little in the winter and is lower in the summer. “It is thrilling to get the reduced monthly bills and to see (via computer) how much power is being produced at any point in the day from which panel.”

Mary’s recommendations for Going Solar. “The prices is right and the time is right to go solar. It is is the smart thing to do if you are able to. Be thorough about your research and understand how it works. It’s all been pretty exciting!”

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