Countdown To Earth Day: Why I Chose Solar Energy For My Kane County Home

Countdown To Earth Day: Why I Chose Solar Energy For My Kane County Home

  • The Kane County Board Energy And Environmental Committee, Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources and Kane County Connects are teaming up for a “Count Down to Earth Day” series celebrating the success stories and spotlighting the environmental challenges we face right here, right now in Kane County, IL. Today’s essay is written by Kane County Board Energy and Environmental Committee Chair Mavis Bates, who represents Kane County District 4.

I have wanted solar panels for many years. This week, I got my wish.

In 2020, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the Citizen’s Utility Board, Kane County, and Sierra Club sponsored a solar “group-buy” program, giving residents the opportunity to purchase solar panels as a group in order to receive bulk pricing discounts.

We signed up. The need for solar and wind energy is tremendous right now, and we felt the best way to fight air pollution and climate change is to get rid of our coal-fired power plants and replace them with clean, green energy.

Our solar panels and inverters came in a cardboard box the size of a small car. Our system has 19 panels, eight on the east side and 11 on the west side, with the two groups linked together by a conduit in the attic. All the wires come from the attic down to the breaker box in a shiny new conduit pipe.

The whole experience was fun and exciting. I spent most of those three days outside, watching our brave installers go up and down the ladders, clip their harnesses onto the safety line, and work hard to make our panels efficient and secure. They answered all of my questions with good humor, and never once told me I was being a pest!

Our system will provide 6 kilowatts of power on a sunny day, meaning we could run 60 lightbulbs at the same time. The estimated gross annual electricity production is 7,376 kWh, and the panels should last 25 years. Our Q Cell panels were engineered in Germany and assembled in the U.S. When the sun isn’t shining, we will still be connected to ComEd.

This system is initially a large investment. However, with federal and state incentives, we will ultimately save money. To illustrate how this works, I want to share the real numbers.

We purchased the whole system for $17,500. We will get a 26% federal tax credit on our 2021federal income taxes, worth about $4,550. We will also get $6,556 for our Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs, a payment we will receive from the Illinois Power Agency for our contribution toward helping the environment with renewable energy.

Therefore, total costs this year will be around $6,500 after the two incentives.

Then the real financial value kicks in — our estimated energy savings will be about $1,100 a year. That means in about five years we will break even on our original investment. Starting in year six, we will be saving approximately $1,100 every year for the next 20 years or more, a savings of around $20,000.

There also are currently some plans in our area with no up-front costs to put solar on your house. These are called power purchase agreements, and you may want to look into one of those.

Turning my dream of having solar panels on our house into a reality has been thrilling and rewarding. Leaving the world a better place for future generations has been my purpose in life for many years, and helping to make more clean energy is one way to fulfill that purpose.

It has been well worth it. We are helping to save the planet and saving money at the same time.

Read The Countdown To Earth Day Series