YES! You’ve made the first step to exploring solar energy for your home. This could be for several reasons – you want to break free from the utility, you want to reduce your carbon footprint, you want to invest in your home instead of the utility, or you simply want to save money. But how does it work? What can your home produce with solar energy? What is solar production?
Solar production is how much energy your array (or system) will produce measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kilowatt is the unit of measurement that the utility charges you according to how much electricity you use; a kilowatt is a measure of 1,000 watts of electrical power.
An essential task of our design team is to accurately predict the amount of kWh your system will produce annually. We work closely with all of our customers on their specific electric needs and usage to determine how our predicted production will supplement their current electric needs. Electric needs can vary based on many factors including, but not limited to, what and how many electric appliances you have, do you have a pool or hot tub, do you have an electric vehicle that needs to be charged? Basically, how are you using electricity in your home?
But how is production figured out?
GreenSpark uses a modeling and data gathering system, capturing the image of the horizon from the proposed location of the solar array. This system takes your system’s angle (the tilt on your roof), orientation (what compass direction it is facing), and shading into account. Shading can be caused by trees, chimneys, vents, other roofs, utility poles, etc. Production equates to financial savings using the current price of electricity, the estimated inflation rate of electricity, and degradation of the proposed system. Plainly put, the more your array produces, the more savings you’ll experience.
As a repeat NYSERDA Quality Installer, GreenSpark strictly adheres to the regulations and guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal utility and industry standards. One of these regulations is the use of a 3% escalation rate for utility prices, no higher, when calculating production in a proposal. This escalation rate uses a three-year history of utility rates to determine the current rate paid per kWh in any given utility territory. In our production estimations in our proposals, we use a maximum assumption of a 3% escalation rate on electric prices and a prescripted reduction in production due to degradation over time.
GreenSpark takes these regulations around production estimates seriously. In fact, we take them so seriously that we provide a 95% production guarantee. It is standard industry practice to include language around production guarantees in contracts. For example, if we estimate that your system will produce 10,000 kwhs per year but your system make less than 9,500 kwhs per year, you will get a check in the mail for that lost production. However, there are some years that you might produce 10,500 kwhs per year depending on weather patterns and other production influences!
In conclusion, GreenSpark utilizes production guarantees to be fully transparent on the investment that you’ve made in going solar. This is not always the case. Be sure to check for a few things when exploring your solar options:
- Is there a production guarantee?
- What cost per kWh is calculated to determine your annual savings?
- What electric cost escalation rate is used to determine your yearly savings?
We look forward to exploring your solar energy options with you.