Finding the Solar Solution

As renewable energy gains momentum, many homeowners and businesses up and down the Puget Sound are considering solar installations to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs. However, navigating the solar landscape can be overwhelming without proper guidance. In this blog, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive guide on what you need to know about solar installations in the Puget Sound area. From understanding the benefits of going solar to finding reputable installers, we’ve got you covered!

Embracing Solar Power

The Puget Sound area is known for its lush greenery and commitment to sustainability. You can contribute to the region’s clean energy goals by harnessing solar power while enjoying several benefits. Fortunately, heaps of solar companies are vying for your partnership in creating a sustainable future. Below we discuss what components are essential in receiving a quality solar energy system proposal.

Finding Qualified Installers

Selecting a reputable solar installer is crucial for a successful and efficient solar installation you feel proud to own! Research local companies with a proven track record in the Puget Sound area. Look for certifications, customer reviews, and experience in installing solar systems. Several quality installers in Washington provide a unique experience; we want you to be excited about your investment in owning a solar energy system, no matter who you install with.

Assessing Your Solar Potential

Evaluating your property’s solar potential is crucial. Factors such as roof orientation, shading, and available space play a role in determining the feasibility of solar panels. Any reputable solar energy installer will provide you with a payback period, production numbers using specific production in kWh produced per kW installed, clear warranty information, and a price per watt. Most importantly, ensure that the proposed system utilizes at least one month of your actual energy usage, and then ask how much energy usage is estimated for your annual consumption. This ultimately determines the size of the system needed to offset your use.

Customizing Your Solar System

Every property has unique energy needs, and a proper solar energy system is customized to meet the owner’s needs. Collaborate with your chosen installer to design a system that matches your energy goals, design preferences, and budget. Consider factors like specific production, equipment options, and monitoring capabilities to maximize the benefits of your solar installation. Factor in future increases or decreases in energy usage, whether that’s future EV purchases or downsizing of family, so that you aren’t under or overpaying for a solar energy system. Remember, you will not get a check from your utility for excess generation. Your electricity bill will always have a fixed cost, even if you offset all your usage during a billing period.

The Escalation Rate of Electricity

Refers to the rate at which electricity increases in cost every year. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, the national average annual rate increase is 2.9%. This rate is vital to properly assessing the increased energy savings over the lifespan of your solar energy system. This information should be transparent to you by whom you receive a solar proposal. Some companies set the escalation rate at 5%, making their system look like it saves you more money than it will. We estimate an average of 3.5 % rate increase due to local Washington utilities announcing rate hikes to recoup lost revenue from the pandemic. From 2022 to 2023, the average electricity rates in Washington increased by over 8% from $0.1012 to $0.1096. Check out our blog that covers utility rate hikes in 2023 here.

Solar Incentives

Washington State has terrific solar policies empowering homeowners and businesses to save year-round on their energy bills. From no-sales tax on solar energy systems and batteries (when installed on or simultaneously with an existing solar energy system) and Net Metering! At the Federal level, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides a 30% tax credit on the total system cost, including labor, materials, and permitting. Your solar proposal from a reputable installer will include information on these incentives, explaining how they work, why they benefit you, and how it’s reflected in the cost of the system. Be sure to see if the ITC is factored in the system cost initially or after one year of owning the system.

Solar Financing

Currently, in Washington, you can follow two paths to owning solar. Purchasing the system with cash or financing the purchase through a lender. The tried and true solar financial institution in Washington is Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union; they have experience working with many of the installers in Washington and understand the ins and outs of solar.

Maintenance and Monitoring

Solar installations require minimal maintenance, but regular monitoring ensures optimal performance. Understand the basics of system maintenance, including cleaning panels, inspecting for damage, and monitoring energy production. Many installers offer equipment that enables module-level monitoring systems that allow you to track your solar system’s performance and identify potential issues.

Solar Scams to Avoid

Unfortunately, in the pursuit of providing clean energy to Washington residents and businesses, some companies are taking advantage of Washingtonians with false and misleading claims.

Claims such as:

  • The federal tax credit is expiring at the end of the year!
  • You can take the investment tax credit on the roof you need to replace to install solar
  • See if you qualify for Washington’s no-cost solar program
  • Sign up within a few days and receive special discounts
  • Net-metering is going away!
  • Or, you’ll get paid for the excess energy you send to the grid.

These claims are false, misleading, and engage in high-pressure sales tactics that will most likely occur by someone knocking on your door or social media platforms. If you are coerced into signing a contract by a door-to-door salesman, it is Washington State law that you have three days to cancel the contract.

A proper solar energy system installation requires skilled labor, careful consideration, and concerted collaboration to get the system that best fits your needs! Solar isn’t cheap, and cutting costs may benefit a homeowner or business in the short term; due to the longevity of a solar systems lifetime, the money saved may cost you down the line when you need maintenance and troubleshooting to keep your investment churning kWhs from the sun! Be sure to speak with a certified CPA for any tax credit concerns regarding your solar energy system and other renewable energy project installations.

Joining the Solar Community

Becoming a part of the solar community by joining Solar Washington and Washington Solar Energy Industry Association. Engage with local solar non-profit organizations like Olympia Community Solar, attend workshops, and join online forums to connect with other solar enthusiasts in the Puget Sound area. Sharing experiences, tips, and knowledge will help you stay informed and maximize your solar installation.

Discover Your Solar Future

With Washington State’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy, the Puget Sound area can lead the charge to a sustainable future. You can confidently navigate the solar landscape by understanding the benefits, regulations, and design considerations. Embrace solar power, find qualified installers, and leverage available incentives to make your transition to clean energy a rewarding and eco-conscious choice for your home or business. Together, we can create a brighter and greener future for all Washingtonians!

user profile image for Manuel Larrain
Manuel Larrain
Manuel Larrain is a Chilean-born US citizen who studied business and sustainability at Western Washington University. Solar energy is his passion, as it is transforming how Washingtonians power their lifestyle. He believes we can address climate change, environmental justice, and steward a brighter future for all of us through renewable energy.