Solar Electricity generation in Ohio is a viable alternative to conventional power, i.e coal-fired power plants. Federal tax incentives and encouraging Net Metering policies make it a very good time to invest in your energy future. While Ohio's alternative energy ranking is still modest, great strides elsewhere in the country have led to countless innovations with regards to efficiency, mounting or racking and production improvements at the modular level.
In an attempt to make solar more appealing, the Federal Government allows a 30%, rolling income tax credit on total cost of installation, for both residential and commercial. It won't last forever however, in fact:
Net Metering is the utility allowing Interconnection with your Solar System. This allows you to use the grid as storage for any excess you are producing, enabling you a credit that can be used at a later date. After all, the sun does not shine at night so you will still likely need your power company. This credit is worth the exact same as the kilowatt hour you would otherwise purchase from the utility. The utility does not want you to make an excess by years end and neither do you, as it isn't worth the same rate. The utility will install a bi-directional meter so they can keep track of how much you are using versus how much you are making, like the one pictured below.
Net metering can be tricky so the following examples describe some likely scenarios that should help.
It's May and the sun is really cooking. Your system generates 900 kilowatt hrs (a kWh is 1000 watts for one hour) but your home uses 1,200 kWh's. You will still need to purchase 300 kWh's from the utility, however it is much less than without a solar installation: a difference of 1,200 - 900 kWh's = 300. That would be an estimated savings of 900 kWh's x 0.14$/kWh = 126.00$
It's January and the utility has balanced the 'tab' between you two last month in December. So you have no credit and the low winter sun at this latitude has your system only generating 400 kWh's but your home still uses 1,500 (space heaters are likely the culprit!), so you would still purchase 1,110 from the utility, costing around $154.00. Solar didn't save you much this month and it isn't supposed to. The goal with net metering is to build a credit in the summer and use it in the winter months before December.
Over the course of June & July, you could fry more eggs than Bob Heavens on that roof of yours and your system is definitely earning its salt. You generate 1,800 kWh's in June (but use only 1,000) and 1,900 kWh's in July (and only use 1,200). Because you had surplus months, they are both rolled to August where you will have 1,500 kWh's awaiting you via the grid, free of charge. June & July just saved you $210.00 this year. Cheers.
As stated before, Ohio is a great state to save some real money with a solar installation due to utility cooperation and that sweet, sweet Federal tax break. Maybe your lucky enough to have some 100 year old trees on your property and solar wouldn't work: you can install it elsewhere and still take the tax break!
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