If you live in Murrieta, there’s no better time to go solar than now — with no cash down.
Just ask homeowner Carlos Hernandez, a Marine who has lived in Murrieta for two years. In a couple of weeks he is having 21 new solar panels installed on the roof of his two-story, 2,350-square-foot house.
Instead of facing summer energy bills that Hernandez said have averaged about $240-$300 per month, and wintertime bills of $120 or more, he’ll pay a flat rate for electricity of $136 monthly, all year long. That price covers his electricity to the house and his leased solar panels, which he’ll pay off over a 20-year period.
He’s thrilled at the cost savings of going solar.
“I just wanted to get away from the grid as much as possible,” Hernandez said, adding that the solar panels should provide 99 percent of the electricity his home needs. He figures he will save several hundred dollars per year.
“I get peace of mind, the fact that I don’t have to worry about energy costs any more. My bill is pretty much set. I don’t have to worry about rate increases or anything,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez bought his system from Sullivan Solar Power of San Diego, which is encouraging Murrieta homeowners this summer to take advantage of all that sunshine while lowering energy bills.
Sullivan Solar is making a big push in Murrieta this summer, following a similar program in Temecula that ran through April 12.
The Temecula program resulted in more than 375,000 watts of clean, renewable solar energy committed to being installed for over 50 property owners in Temecula. With the Temecula program, Sullivan Solar generated Riverside County’s largest collective deployment of residential solar this year and gave the Temecula customers more than $210,000 in cash-back incentives.
The company hopes for similar success in Murrieta. Within the last year, Murrieta saw a 140 percent growth rate in solar reservations, according to a recent study by PV Solar Report. Solar buyers also are eligible for a state rebate of about five percent of the system’s cost as well as a federal tax credit for going solar, said Dustin Urquhart, Sullivan Solar’s business development manager.
Murrieta’s cash-back incentive program ends Aug. 20. Participants can go solar without spending any money up front if they opt to lease their system, like Hernandez.
Property owners pay for the leased solar panels over a period of up to 20 years, or they can buy a solar system outright. Prices vary depending on energy needs and the size of the home or business. The average cost outright for a solar system for a homeowner with an average energy bill of $260 per month would be about $40,000 (for a fairly large 7,000 KW system), Urquhart said. Those interested in the cash-back Murrieta incentive program must sign a contract with Sullivan by Aug. 20.
The program has three financial incentive milestones for customers to get the cash back:
- 125,000 watts (about 23 homes) sold – customers receive 5 percent cash back off the value of their system
- 187,500 watts (about 35 homes) – 7.5 percent cash back
- 250,000 watts (about 47 homes) – 10 percent cash back
In Murrieta as of Wednesday, 53,764 watts had been sold. Urquhart said it’s not unusual for the program to start off slowly. Seven homes have signed up so far and another 25 or 26 homes are pending, he said. The cash-back program also ran in other communities including Fallbrook, Chula Vista, Poway and Huntington Beach, and all hit at least the first milestones, Urquhart said.
“As long as you have a credit score of 700 or greater you can qualify. There’s no equity required in your home. It’s an affordable option and a proven technology. It’s to promote a sustainable future and offer cash-back incentives into the community,” he said.
Sullivan Solar Power, started by San Diego resident Daniel Sullivan in 2004, has designed and installed systems for cities and counties throughout California, as well as for homes and businesses.
The San Diego Business Journal recently named Sullivan among the Top 10 Fastest Growing Businesses and Inc. Magazine ranked the company in the Top 50 for the Fastest Growing Energy Firms in the United States. The company is expanding in the Inland Empire and plans to open another office in Riverside by September, Urquhart said.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.