MY SOLAR STORY
HOW ACCELERATE SOLAR HELPED ME BUILD THE SOLAR SYSTEM
OF MY DREAMS TO PROVIDE MY FAMILY WITH CLEAN, SAFE,
AFFORDABLE ENERGY FOR THE FUTURE.
BY CHRIS FRISHMUTH
“Having moved into our house a few years ago we realized that our roof pitch and orientation were ideal for a solar panel installation. In mid-September of 2012 I started looking around the internet for a local solar installer. I came across Accelerate Solar’s website and it looked professionally organized. I sent an inquiry and within a few hours I was put in contact with Chris Verner, System Design & Solar Project Manager. He asked me a few questions and within the same day he had a project quote to me as well as information on all the incentives for homeowners to install a solar system.
It took us a couple of weeks to line up a Home Equity loan from our bank to finance the project. During that period I received specific project details from Mr. Verner that settled the configuration of the solar array and all of the associated parts. I was extremely impressed with his attention to detail, his willingness to explain all of the components, and his desire to educate us on the technology we were going to have installed. He offered us several options, but we decided to go with premium Mage solar panels. Mr. Verner sent us a mock up of what our roof would look like with the array and it fit with the aesthetics of our property perfectly. In the end we settled with a 7.5kW system, with a Fronius inverter, data monitoring, and some additional features.
Going solar is very exciting and isn’t just simply installing solar panels. The whole crew at Accelerate Solar share a common, infectious excitement about renewable energy and it translates into the professionalism of their work. Going solar raises your awareness of your total energy consumption and even before the project started we found ourselves shutting down computers that were idle, turning off lights and TVs when not in use, and generally trying to become better consumers of electricity. In addition to the solar system, Accelerate Solar also installed a radiant barrier in the attic to further insulate the house, as well as wrapping our hot water heater with a radiant barrier as well. As our house is 100% electric (no natural gas), we have realized significant energy efficiency gains with those improvements, and we’ve also changed out all of our lighting to much cooler and
higher efficiency LED bulbs.
A quick note on why we ultimately decided to go with the solar array. While the initial cost is daunting, the tax credits that are provided by the federal and state government are SUBSTANTIAL and will cover the MAJORITY of the installation cost. The federal tax credit is 30% of the total installation and equipment cost. It is important to realize this is a tax rebate, not a reduction in your taxable income – so we will actually be getting roughly $9,500 back on our solar project from the federal government alone. In addition, North
Carolina offers a 35% tax credit to a maximum of $10,500 per residential solar installation, so we will be receiving $10,500 in tax credits from the state. While the federal tax credit is given in one lump sum in the first year, the state credit is broken up over a few years. In the end, after all tax credits are applied, we are looking at an out of pocket cost of around $11,000.
Once the contract was signed, we provided an initial deposit with two further payments due upon delivery of the equipment and final connection with the power grid. One thing that I can’t stress enough is how efficient Accelerate Solar was with getting all of the required permits, registrations, and documents filed with local and state agencies. There is a fair amount of paperwork but the professional correspondence handled by Mr. Verner with the various agencies made the process easy. From initial contact to delivery of the equipment and Accelerate Solar starting on the actual construction was three weeks. That could have actually happened faster, but I had to go through the home equity loan processing, which added a week and half while we awaited the financing. Once the equipment was delivered to the house, Accelerate Solar swung into action.
The professionalism and quality of construction was excellent. Mr. Verner and his team of installers are very conscientious and are neat, polite, and do the project to high quality standards. I was really impressed with the safety measures they use during construction (building a scaffold to get on our roof and using safety ropes when working on the array). They also assured that the project was done right, going the extra length to reinforce the roof studs just in case we get a freakishly heavy snow storm, they wanted to make sure the structure was strong enough to bear the load.
The electrical work was beautifully done, with the power cords hidden nicely in a conduit that matched the color of the house. The inverter is a quality piece of equipment that
is actually just beautiful to behold. The electricians, roofers, and solar technicians all worked seamlessly together over the course of a week to finish the job. The end result is
just beautiful to behold. It took a couple of weeks for the power company and certification to occur with the local and state utility, but Mr. Verner was on top of things and kept me advised throughout. The array officially went on line on December 1st – and we’ve been generating power ever since.
Mr. Verner calculated our energy production estimates using software based on our roof pitch, orientation, latitude, and other factors. Since our house is 100% electric, our goal was to reduce as much as possible our power company bill. The power company came out and installed (for free) a new meter that measures the flow of electricity off the array.
Basically, our house consumes whatever energy we produce and any excess flows back down the line to the power company and they credit us for that power generation. We
did not opt for the complexity of a battery storage system, although Accelerate Solar can do that as well.
Accelerate Solar provided us with an energy production estimate based on our array configuration and after it was all said and done, and including the tax credits, we figured on a break even time on the project of about 5 years. Then, we learned the power company changed their policy recently, and now allow the owners of home clean
energy power generators to actually own the renewable energy credits and sell them. To explain that briefly, the government requires polluting companies to offset some of
their polluting ways with green energy projects (credits). So a polluting company will purchase green energy credits from clean energy sources. So now I not only generate power which applies to my power bill, the fact that I do so means I get to sell the credits I generate to polluting companies via a state system called NC RETS. With this additional
source of revenue, we recalculated our break even point to be somewhere around 2.5 to 3 years. That is an incredible return on investment. After three years, we will be profiting
every year for a long, long time.
The quality of the equipment was an important factor in my going with Accelerate Solar. The Mage (of German manufacture) panels are guaranteed for 30 years, with 90% production capacity guaranteed for 12 years, then 80% after 30 years. The Fronius IG+ inverter is state of the art. The Fronius Data Logger sends realtime information from the array to my computer for instant analysis. It also saves and archives data so I can watch
the power generation trends over time. It is interesting to watch the power output of the array go up and down as clouds pass by. I can even access the current and historical power generation data via any internet connection, and there is an app for my iPhone and
iPad that will show me realtime generation (Android application is also available).
Accelerate Solar’s point man, Chris Verner, has a great working knowledge of all of the components and he is a perfectionist when it comes to getting the system installed, looking good, and performing great. I have to admit I was very nervous about sinking money into this project, but my expectations have been wildly exceeded with the finished project. I am so proud of the project I am telling all of my neighbors, friends, and family
about it because I think, when coupled with the state and federal tax incentives, this is a win-win project. It is such a rewarding feeling to watch the inverter numbers stream in and see the meter sending power back down the power grid to the power company. With electric rates only going up over the coming decades, we estimate our savings over the next three decades to approach $140,000!!!
Overall, I can only give my enthusiastic endorsement to Accelerate Solar and their dedicated team. They have been extremely responsive to my needs, questions, and
concerns and they have been nothing but outstanding to work with. We plan on building a garage on our existing home in the future and we will definitely be contacting Accelerate Solar to add additional panels to that structure when the time comes.”