Today we completed the preparation (on paper) for our conversion to solar energy. We have signed a contract called a Power Purchase Agreement or (PPA) with a company that will install their solar panels, inverter, and meter and most important to my husband- they will be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment for the entirety of the contract.
In a PPA contract the consumer locks in the rate for the price they are going to spend for each kilowatt of power they use for the duration of the contract. Our price is guaranteed not to go up during the life of our contract. Locally, our power company rates have been climbing at a minimum of more than 6% annually for a decade. So, if rates continue to climb as they have, our flat rate for the 97% of our average monthly energy use that will be provided by the solar panels will start saving us money very soon.
Our current average monthly electricity bill is $90 plus our $10 smart meter opt out fee for a total of $100. Once our panels are hooked up and functioning, our new monthly bill for the same average KWh will be $104.86 flat rate for the 97% solar and the 3% local power, that is until the local power company institutes the next raise... at least they will only be raising my fees for 3% of my power from now on... You can see over time how that will ultimately save us thousands of dollars in a matter of years.
The company we chose was the first one I've spoken to that was willing to double the amount of panels/power generation without a huge up front expense to us. In fact, they have a special going on right now that allowed us to start with zero down. So, they will be installing the panels within the next few weeks and as soon as the power company removes their meter and hooks up the solar meter to the grid, we will be almost completely off of coal energy.
Our contract guarantees us 97% of our peak energy use from solar, that's why we demanded the extra panels. So, as our power company rates continue to rise at twice the rate of inflation, the most they will affect our budget is on a mere 3% of our energy use... Pretty nifty I think.