As the hot summer months loom and residents look for ways to cut back on energy usage to mitigate the cost of running an air conditioner, some folks are taking bold steps towards savings.
“I would have to say that from the permit activity we’ve seen, there is an increase in solar permit requests,” said Rich Johnston, building official for the city of Temecula.
“I think it has a lot to do with different tax credits being offered,” Johnston said.
For Temecula resident Don Johnson, who took the solar plunge last month, the reason for the shift was both moral and mathematical.
“Part of it is, I thought it was the right thing to do. (After researching) it, I realized some of my old assumptions about solar power might be wrong. But, the trigger was my electric bill for last August was $300. That just really irked me,” said Johnson.
Jessica Rich-Plotkin, Director of Sales Inland Empire with solar distributor Gen110, said that solar power is on the rise as “the demand for electricity bills that don’t make you cry every month has grown.”
Rich-Plotkin said that not all homeowners may be eligible for the service, as sometimes the size, direction and pitch of the roof can determine the amount of sun that can be harnessed.
And not all customers may enjoy a significant discount, depending on their typical usage.
Johnson said that, while he has elected to remain a So Cal Edison customer for Tiers 1-2 electricity, he still expects to see a $50-70 reduction of his monthly electric bill. He said that the 21 cents per kilowatt at Tier 3 usage he will pay for solar will net him savings.
“Every month I am on Tier 3 with Edison (because of the pool pump). I’ll see a savings every month, but the big savings will come in the hot summer months,” Johnson said, adding he expects that his one-time investment for the solar panels of $1,000 will pay off. Installation by Gen110 was free.
Rich-Plotkin said that one of the draws of the solar program at Gen110 is that the red tape is taken out of the customer’s hands.
“We do all of the paperwork. We work with city for permits. We install,” Rich-Plotkin said.
Temecula, working to streamline the process for permits, offers a fairly quick turnaround for homeowners.
“Approval time can vary. But, we try to expedite based on the product being installed,” Johnston said.
Johnson said his permit was approved by the city of Temecula in just over a month.
One homebuilder in the region — KB Home at Manzanita in Paseo del Sol — is also luring prospective buyers with a solar package included in the price of a home.
According to a statement released in Nov., 2011, the company “launched its solar initiative in March 2011 … Based on consumer interest and the desire to provide additional savings on homeowners’ energy bills, (KB Home) decided to increase both the number of communities participating and the size of the solar power systems included as standard.”
Johnson said: “I’m doing something that has a little bit of social good. And if it doesn’t cost any more than what I am already paying, well, that’s good, too.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.