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Go Solar! - Los Altos Hills, California


Belle G. of Los Altos Hills, CA discusses her experience with Poco Solar as part of our Go Solar! series.

What went into the decision to install a PV solar system? Belle had been exploring the idea of installing solar panels for several years. She wanted a system that would produce 70-80% of her power, which meant it had to be pretty large. She began with a solar pool heater and kept her eye on the photovoltaic market as prices began to drop. She always felt going solar was the right thing to do, it was just a matter of time.

How Belle chose a solar installer. When the time seemed right, Belle got 6 estimates, ranging from small local installers to the big guys. Poco Solar had previously installed the solar pool heater and had done a great job. The bid provided by Poco was the best price AND used a more efficient panel than the quotes from other installers. Between Belle's prior experiencewith the company, the super efficient panels, and the price, it was clear that Poco was the best company for the job.

What was the installation process like? The actual installation of the 6.56 kW system, the inverter box, and the hook up took about 2 days. From the time Belle signed the contract to the time the work started was about 2-3 months while they waited for the equipment to arrive. After the installation it took another month for the local utility (PG&E) to come out and connect the system to the power grid.

How were the rebates handled? The rebate process was very straightforward. The installer worked the California state rebate into the estimate and took care of all of the necessary paperwork. (They also filed the necessary paperwork with the local utility company and submitted the plans to the city planning department for approval) Claiming the federal tax credit on her yearly taxes was not difficult either. Before the federal tax credit, Belle's out of pocket cost was about $44k for a 6.56 system. She received $13k credit on her federal taxes, bringing the cost down to $31k.

The energy savings. "Being environmentally conscious and self generating power while reducing your utility bill is very exciting. Although there is no one reason we installed solar - we felt it was the right thing to do - the energy savings are significant." She pays about $12-15/month in taxes and fees to the utility company. Then at the end of the year, a “true-up” occurs and the total amount of electricity provided by the gas and electric company is calculated and billed. This works out to about $40/month.

Belle’s recommendations for Going Solar. “My experience has been nothing but positive. If you can afford the out-of-pocket cost – it has to make sense for you – I would highly, highly recommend it. Upkeep is simple and savings are significant.”

Related Articles: What is Photovoltaic Solar Power? ; How to Choose a Solar Installer? ; Is Solar Right for Me? ; What is a Certified NABCEP Solar Installer? ; Solar FAQ

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