ENERGY OF ILLINOIS FAQ

Learn the answers to the biggest questions about solar from Energy of Illinois CEO Dwayne Travis

 

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The Ultimate Solar FAQ

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is the policy that really enables your solar to work for you. In most US states, there is a policy that says for every kilowatt hour that you put into the grid, you will receive a credit for that kilowatt hour. So if your solar system produces 10 kilowatt hours of energy, and it puts those 10 kilowatt hours into the grid, that’s 10 kilowatt hours you get back. That’s what net metering is.

This is really important because your solar system produces energy during the daytime, but you use energy during the nighttime as well. How it works is that during the daytime, you put a lot of energy into the grid, and it goes “on account” to be used later when you are not producing electricity. So you’re banking all those credits. Then at night (or on a cloudy day), you pull that energy off the grid, and you use all the credits you accumulated.

That’s net metering. It’s an amazing policy. One that we all as consumers and advocates for clean energy have to continue to fight for. It has enabled solar to develop so much and, in effect, gives you the ability to use the grid as your own battery, reducing the cost of electricity for you and your family.

What is the Solar Investment Tax Credit?

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (also known as the ITC) is actually really simple. When you go solar, the federal government gives you a rebate on your taxes in the amount of 26% of the value of your solar system. Now, keep in mind, the tax credit is scheduled to step-down in future years. So while it is 26% in 2021, it will likely be lower in future years. That’s why customers who are ready to go solar should do so while the tax credit is maximized.

The ITC is a huge part of the value proposition of solar. For example, if you go solar and finance (or purchase with cash) your system for $30,000, you get to keep 26% of that $30,000 solar solar system. And if you finance your system, you get this benefit without paying ANY money down for the system.

When you file your taxes at the end of the year, you’re going to include the cost of your solar system, and the government is simply going to send you a check back for that amount (or subtract it from your existing tax liability). That is why you want to go solar today and take advantage of the generous federal subsidies we as consumers have to support clean energy and save money.

How do Solar Warranties Work?

One of the most common questions our clients ask is how a solar warranty works. There are three types of solar warranties:

Net metering is the policy that really enables your solar to work for you. In most US states, there is a policy that says for every kilowatt hour that you put into the grid, you will receive a credit for that kilowatt hour. So if your solar system produces 10 kilowatt hours of energy, and it puts those 10 kilowatt hours into the grid, that’s 10 kilowatt hours you get back. That’s what net metering is.

The first one is on the panels. When you buy a solar system for power, those panels are typically warrantied for 25 years. What that means is they’re guaranteed to work for 25 years and continue to produce power. Now, depending on the panel you buy, that production guarantee could be anywhere from 85% of the power they were producing on day one, all the way up to 92% if you opt for a higher-efficiency, premium panel.

The second type of warranty is on your inverter, which is the component of your system that transforms the energy you get directly from the sun into usable AC current that can actually power your home: turn on your lights, power your A/C, help you watch TV and all that good stuff. Your inverter is warrantied anywhere from 12 to 25 years. And a lot of times we will also include an extended option for 30 years, which really makes it a complete no-brainer.

Now the third part of the warranty covers what’s called the workmanship. Our workmanship warranty is for 10 years. That means all the work that we do on your house when we’re installing your solar system, when we’re on your roof while you’re working, when we’re working inside your electrical panel. All of that work is guaranteed for 10 years to make sure that there’s absolutely no issues.

25 years on the panels, 12 to 30 years on the inverter, 10 years on the workmanship warranty. Truly, we’ve got you covered when it comes to protecting your solar investment and making sure that it provides value to you for the long haul.

What is Energy of Illinois Mission?

So how does power give back? That’s the entire purpose of our company. When our founder, Jonathan Budd was 26 years old, he went to the Amazon rainforest, because he wanted to change his life and find a career that had meaning and purpose, to really do something different. After his eye-opening rainforest experience, Jonathan came back and decided to dedicate his life to solar energy and sustainable energy.

So the very origins of our company are rooted in how we make a difference on this Earth. So Energy of Illinois incorporated as a public benefit corporation, which means we have a legal initiative in our corporate bylaws to actually do good for the environment and for society. So that’s important to us.

One of the ways we back that up is we created a company-wide carbon offset program. You can visit our carbon offset page and look at all of the projects that we fund and all the things that we do to offset the emissions our team creates. But we took it one step further. We became the first solar company in history to also offset the emissions from all the manufacturing of solar equipment.

Solar is an amazing thing. Each installation produces clean energy for 30-40 years. But the industrial process is kind of messy, and a lot of dirty energy is used to make all of this equipment. So we decided to put up the money out of our own profits, basically, to eliminate all that.

We accomplish that by planting new forests all over the world. We do carbon capture projects in Colorado and Brazil. We purchase cookstoves in Uganda – instead of people using old dirty fuels like kerosene, we give them new types of technology.

You can go to our carbon offset ledger and see all of our initiatives. Plus we decided to crowd-fund our business so it could also be owned by the people. So we’re owned by almost 1000 of our homeowners, energy consultants, and employees, making this a company owned by the people. It’s for the people, and really, with a purpose to make a difference.

Is Solar a Good Investment for My Family?

It is well-documented that solar increases the value of your home. The reason for this is that it’s a home investment that actually produces income. A solar system sits on your roof and generates electricity, and there is a value for each kilowatt of electricity your system produces.

In fact, each KW you produce is a KW that you don’t have to purchase from your electric company. Plus the future value of all of those savings is valuable to the next buyer of your home.

Another amazing reason to go solar today – get the economic benefits today, and get more for the sale of your home tomorrow.

How Do I Know if My Home is a Fit for Solar?

Not every home is eligible for solar, so cross your fingers. Let’s hope you’re one of the lucky ones, and you can save money. There are three main factors:

Number one is called “sun exposure” – does your roof (or the location of your solar panels) get enough access to the sun? One of the things we’ll do is analyze your sun exposure from satellite images and other technology to make sure that you’ve got what’s called “proper solar access”. There’s a percentage we’re looking for which, as long as you’ve got that, you’re good to go.

Number two is orientation. What direction would your panels be facing? Ideally we would want the panels facing South or West, since that is where the most sunshine hits. So you’re looking for the right sun exposure, you’re looking for the right orientation.

And then there’s just number three. Are there any structural issues with your house or roof that would make it difficult to mount solar panels? And if it turns out that it doesn’t work for solar, no harm done, you got educated and you know it is what it is. But that’s the reason why I encourage you to reach out and get a no-cost proposal from us so we can actually do the hard work of analyzing your property and show you exactly how much money you can save by going solar.

Think Solar is too Expensive?

One of the biggest questions that everybody has about solar is “How do I pay for it?” The old misconception was that it actually took cash to go solar. People thought, well, solar is expensive, because I have to spend this upfront cash. That could not be further from the truth.

Today, in fact, solar is the least expensive option to get energy in most of the United States. And with low interest rates and lots of finance programs, it is typically easy for most homeowners to get zero-down financing. There are two primary ways to finance your solar system today: with a low interest rate loan or a lease. Let’s talk about both options.

A zero down loan means that you can choose a loan term, whether it’s five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, or 25 years. We offer all of those, and we offer them at the most competitive rates possible. Now, when you go solar with a zero down loan, what that means is, you finance the system through your loan provider, and instead of paying a monthly bill to your utility, you simply pay a less expensive monthly payment to your loan provider. So you get to keep the difference.

If, for some reason, a person can’t get a loan, they will often choose a lease. This may be because they don’t have a tax liability and can’t keep the tax credit. A lease is exactly like it sounds – every single month, you’ll pay a lease payment. And you’ll pay that usually over 20 years. It’s that simple. Your lease payment is going to be less than what you used to pay your utility bill, which means you’re saving money every single month.

We will help you figure out what is best for you. When you get a proposal from us, our consultants are going to sit down with you. They’re going to show you all the different options and help you decide what’s best for you. They’re going to show you how much money you can save with Energy of Illinois and we’re going to make it as easy as humanly possible for you to understand and make your decision.

What is Involved in Going Solar?

So what happens when you sign an agreement to go solar with power? Actually, the agreement is the hardest part! Once you sign your agreement, we do the rest. We will assign you a dedicated project manager that will keep you posted through every step of your project.

First, we will schedule your site survey. Next, we create the design that gets submitted to the City to receive a construction permit. Once the permit is received, we schedule your installation, which typically takes 1-3 days depending on the size of your system. After we finish installing the solar system on your house, we schedule the city inspector and/or your utility company to approve the installation and give you what is called “permission to operate”, or PTO. Once you have PTO, we power on your system and you can enjoy clean power for your home from sunshine. The whole process typically takes 30-60 days. Although much of that time is simply waiting for permits, inspectors and the like.

Do I Need to Buy a Battery?

There are two primary ways that homeowners benefit from owning a battery:

First, you can use the battery for backup power. If the grid goes down, you’re still covered. If disaster strikes, if there’s a hurricane in your area, or a fire, or any of the things that we’re all dealing with now, on a much more common basis, having a battery will allow you to continue to have electricity in your home, even if your utility company can’t provide it.

The second reason is that you can often actually save money by getting a battery if you live in a region with specific rate structures where you would benefit from using stored power from the battery during more expensive times of the day. In many regions, net metering policy allows you to save money without the need for the battery, unless you want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your home can provide electricity even when your utility company can’t. Ask your Energy of Illinois consultant for more information. They’ll be able to give you a detailed proposal of exactly how much a system will cost with a battery if you’re interested in one. We work with all the biggest battery manufacturers and we can absolutely make sure that you get taken care of – whichever way is best for you.

Two Options for Purchasing Energy

So let’s talk about your options. Really, when it comes to your future with energy, you only have two options.

Number one is you go solar, you choose to actually take control of your power, take your power back, spend less for solar energy and the energy you need for your home than it currently costs you to get that from your utility, increase the value of your home, be energy independent, and do the right thing for our environment. For goodness sakes, the sunshine doesn’t cause pollution, right? So let’s stop polluting our air, our land, our water, and let’s start powering our lives in a way that as Americans we can really be proud of. We’re doing the right thing. We’re taking care of future generations. And when history looks back on the actions we took, they’re going to know we did the right thing. So that’s option number one.

With Energy of Illinois, we make that incredibly simple for you. Zero down financing, handling the entire project from start to finish. There’s really nothing you need to worry about, we’re going to take care of it for you.

Option number two is you don’t do anything. You just stay with your utility. And you already know what that is. Yeah, your lights are probably going to turn on unless there’s a big power outage or something. But you’re going to spend a lot more for that energy. And you’re going to keep paying utility every single month, month after month after month till the day you die.

Just think about it. Are you ever not going to need energy? Unless you’re planning on moving to a hut in the woods, you’re going to be spending money with your utility company. So why not go solar, do it for less and produce your own energy? And by the way, once that loan payment is paid off, if you do use a zero down option, there’s no more payment, you just have free energy. Imagine if you weren’t spending anything on a monthly basis for energy.

That’s where you can get to with solar versus being stuck in a life long, expensive contract forever with a company that you probably don’t even really like, be honest. Do you like your utility company? Do you feel like they’re taking care of you? Do they have your back? Well, I can tell you that our sincere aim is to serve you.

We want to be a better energy provider. We want to save you money. We want to help you feel proud of how you power your home. And we want to get you all the best equipment, the best technology to set you up for the future. So those are your two options. And I leave it to you to choose. But I truly and sincerely hope that you go solar with Energy of Illinois. Let us help you save money and accelerate a sustainable energy future for mankind.