[Originally posted March 18, 2015]
We’ve had the fortune of discussing solar with several hundred homeowners and community members. Some of the conversations are cursory — quick chats at The Farmers Market or at a coffee shop (we love Mishkas) — while others are more in-depth. No matter the rigour of the dialogue, we always ask the same question: Why Solar?
Yes, it is a very open-ended, extemporaneous question, but we often receive similar responses. Here are the top 5 reasons why Davis homeowners want to, and decide to, go solar.
1. I’m sick of PG&E and I want to slash my electrical bill.
Bingo. The primary motivation. A quick anecdote from a conversation last week: Why should I write a check to PG&E every month when I can generate electricity from a free (the sun) resource? RepowerYolo homeowners are saving, on average, $265 per month in PG&E electricity costs.
2. The cost of solar has gone down, but PG&E bills keep going up.
Correct and correct. The average cost of electricity for RepowerYolo homeowners, prior to installing solar, is approximately 23 cents per kilowatt hour; with solar, the amortized cost of solar electricity is between 8 and 11 cents/kilowatt hour. And, while PG&E rates will continue to rise, your cost of solar electricity will stay fixed.
3. I want to make sure the timing is right and I’m getting a good deal.
Most people do not want to be first (or be an “early adopter”). Fortunately, solar technology has matured considerably and the confluence of reduced solar costs and increased PG&E costs addresses the timing question. In terms of a good deal, of course, everyone wants to make sure they’re getting one. With RepowerYolo, homeowners are saving an average of $5,300 through their community group purchase discount (compared to the average cost of solar in 2013).
4. The planet is warming; I want to do my part. It’s the right thing to do.
Last week we discussed the behavioral pivot from idealists to pragmatists. Now that solar electricity is less expensive than PG&E electricity, what used to be a nice-to-have, icing-on-the-cake virtue of solar — environmental benefits — has become a primary motivator for idealists and pragmatists alike. Quick stats on the average RepowerYolo home:
- Eliminates 175 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Equal to eliminating 36 cars’ annual emissions
- Represents 4,500 tree seedlings grown for 10 years
5. My neighbor has solar, and I think it is cool!
Studies have shown homeowners are twice as likely to go solar if a neighbor on their street has also gone solar. We are seeing this “neighborhood effect” in Davis … if my neighbor, who I know/trust, did it, then I should consider it too.