Come and get ‘em while they last! Southern California Edison (SCE)offers residential rebates of $1.55 per watt of solar panels installed,while the other utilities covered by the California Solar Initiative(CSI) offer a much smaller $0.65 per watt. Fewer customers in SCE’sservice area have taken advantage of the CSI solar rebates, so thestep-down program still offers a higher rebate. To highlight what agreat deal this makes for SCE customers, let’s walk through the costwith GetSolar’s Solar Financial Calculator.
Our fantasy house for this exercise will be in Murrieta, CA and call the beautiful 92563 area code home. It has a Net Metered DomesticService Electric Rate, which you can find on your monthly electric bill, along with the actual dollar amount you pay per month. Annual BillEscalation is a trickier estimate, and for California I chose a roughestimate of 5 percent per year.
After including these basics about the home’s location and electricbill, we get to move on to information about the roof and future PVsystem. Let’s assume we want to install an average sized 5 kW PV systemat a cost of $7,000 per kW. Now it’s likely that you would be able toinstall panels at a lower per kW cost, but for our purposes aconservative estimate is best. My roof also has a 30 degree tilt and one side faces south (Orientation). In real life, you would haveto go outside and estimate tilt based on your actual roof, and you canuse Google Maps to see its orientation. For California, ignore the RECmenu items, since this type of solar incentive is not applicable in thestate.
Next we get to see the results. A 5 kW system on a south facing roofin Southern California Edison territory gives us 10 year payback period, after which we begin to profit from the investment.
Not too shabby. The solar system saves me $1400 per year on electricbills and will pay for itself by 2020. From then on, the system willcontinue to generate free electricity for another 15 years or so.
As with any financial model, standard caveats apply — and changingthe assumptions (where you are, your utility bill, taxable income, roof tilt, etc.) can yield drastically different results. So for those ofyou using this for an actual home instead of the fantasy version Itried, make sure your basic information is as accurate as possible.
The main message here is that SCE’s high rebates make for a greatdeal on solar. If you live or work in their service area, solar mightmake a very strong investment for you.