Solar Powered Sign Shop - One year later


New Member
The original post on this topic took a political slant and (understandably) had to be moved. I wanted to repost it here (in Think Green) because I know some folks don't subscribe to NHB. If you have NHB comments, please fire away but do it here:

For all others, please see below.

Back in December of 2009, I began studying solar panels to potentially be used on the building we had just purchased. We ultimately decided to proceed and turned them on 1 year ago. Here are links to the posts detailing the project:

I thought I'd post an update to share how we're doing with them.

Since 5/20/2010, we have used a total of 18,595 kWh of electricity. Of that total, we purchased 1,664 kWh from our electric company and our solar panels generated the rest - 16,931 kWh. That means that 91% of the electricity we used over the last year came completely from the sun.

The average cost of electricity in the US is currently 9.62 cents per kWH.
( So the savings on my power bill is about $1600.

I also sold 7 SREC's(solar renewable energy credits) that netted another $1600 and I currently have 3 more to sell which are worth $300 - $600 depending on the market value. At minimum, the SREC's will have generated about $2000 of income over the course of the year.

When I initially calculated our ROI, I projected $3,000 in energy savings and $3,000 of income from SREC's for a total of $6,000 per year. As you can see, the actual amount is $3,600. My break even is now looking like it will come in year 3 instead of year 2 as earlier projected.

Due to a feature story about our project, we received a significant amount of free publicity which has raised awareness about our company in general which I feel has also given us a boost in sales. I don't know how to calculate that into the ROI but it certainly helps!

On earlier posts about the project, some pointed out that the cost to replace batteries were not calculated in the ROI. In our case, we chose a "Grid Tie" system which requires no batteries.

You'll note that I've mentioned nothing of the environmental impact of our decision to install this system. That was intentional because I want to show that regardless of your feelings on this subject, sometimes it just makes good economic sense to be "green".


Premium Subscriber
man alive! 30c/kwh !!!!! i new cali was expensive to live in but here were paying 9c/kwh in NC...............

we have tiered rates here. there are 5 levels that range from a dime to 30c for biz but there is also a demand rate that kills you if you use to much at the wrong time.

residential is more than business for kwh.

the big electric company in the north part of the state charges up to 50c/kwh for residential.

why is it so high? well when i worked for the electric utility we were paying 33c/kwh for wind generated and other 'renewable' capacity but only selling it for 14c/kwh. not very smart.

southern california has the highest mandated 3rd party power supply in the country, more than all other electric companies combined.

here is the best part. we have too much capacity so the utility pays the windmills to NOT produce when they don't need it.

Oh, and we had forced deregulation of generation a few years back and the only way to buy electricity was on the spot market so prices tripled overnight when the generators figured out they could just curtail production until the price went up and then turn on the juice when they got the price they wanted. this was enron, reliance, et. all.

now we are getting smart meters (we have been paying 2% extra on our electric bill for years to pay for these things) so we can be punished for using electricity at the wrong time of day or using the wrong appliance during the day. use a vacuum cleaner at 2pm on a summer wednesday and your rates will go through the roof. it is coming to an electric meter near you.

Locals Find!

New Member
use a vacuum cleaner at 2pm on a summer wednesday and your rates will go through the roof. it is coming to an electric meter near you.

Wow! you can be punished for your maid actually wanting to work during the day, so you can come home to a clean house??


New Member
Congrats to the OP! Real green initiatives (not just greenwashing) can make a lot of sense despite this industry being so negative about the concept in general. Nice job taking the leap.


Cool idea, I know a rich family locally who did their whole house solar. I know it cost a couple hundred thousand to set up but now they get checks from the power company also. Must be nice to be rich lol

The state rebate came after we could prove the system was up and running.

All these links are hard to follow. So you are saving $3600 annually in energy costs of electricity usage? Or if not what are you saving per year vs your previous bills, on average?

Also, do you know how long on average you can expect your system to go maintenance free, how long do the panel last before replacement?
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New Member
it is great that this technology can take off when we take from all and give to some. nothing against doing it but would it be viable without taking tax dollars to pay for it?

It absolutely would NOT have been viable for me to do it without incentives.

BTW, if this thread turns political it will have to be moved. If you'd like to explore that end of the project further, it's probably best to do so in the NHB version of this thread that's here:


Squeegee if any part of you grid either goes out or is blocked (snow, leaves etc.) are you noticing a great loss in its output?