March 2021 | Going Solar?

Posted: March 3, 2021 at 4:27 a.m.

Ask the Right Questions to Protect Yourself.

My brother-in-law purchased a 10 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system for his home in rural Missouri. The first salesman’s bid was $40,000. The second salesman’s bid was $22,500. What’s the difference? Not equipment. Financing costs were baked into the first bid.

Are you a homeowner or a small business owner considering installing a solar energy system? There are several questions you should ask, the information you need to know, and potential issues you should address with professionals (installers/contractors, insurance agents, and SEMO Electric Cooperative) before committing to a solar energy system. Although investing in solar energy isn’t for everyone, we want to help you make the best choice for you and your home so you get the most out of your investment.

We have updated our website – Solar – Net Metering Page – to provide you with information as you begin to assess your solar needs. Questions such as: What are my goals for installing a solar energy system? Have I educated myself about the installation process and maintenance requirements? How much can I afford? What is my annual electricity use? What is my summer and winter electric use? What are the benefits of having an energy audit before investing in solar? Is additional homeowner’s insurance required? Will my contractor submit interconnection and net metering applications, or will I be responsible? What questions should I ask the contractor/installer before I sign a contract to protect my investment? What is the total cost – soft costs, monthly payments, interest, etc. – of the entire project?

My biggest concern about solar energy system purchases is a growing number of solar vendors, many from out of state, are misrepresenting the cost savings and other aspects of net metering that do not live up to the sales pitch. Plus, unsafe installations by unqualified installers have become a problem. It seems buyers become aware of these problems only after the units are installed. Purchasers of expensive solar units should have more remedies and protections than the current “three-day cancellation” protection provided by Missouri law. You deserve truth in advertising before making a hefty investment.

If you are serious about going solar, I encourage you to keep good records on your pre-purchase research and pre-installation data as well as bids, contracts, inspection reports, maintenance records, and all other details you may need to refer to in the future. In addition, you’ll want to know about system performance, so develop a process to track and compare your actual system performance with predictions provided by the contractor/installer. Do your homework.

Attention farmers. If you plan on adding irrigation services for 2021, let us know so we can start the planning process. Or if you want to switch your uncontrolled rate to load control, the deadline to change is April 30. Call us at (800) 813-5230 or Email. Let’s have a safe planting season.

Book of the Month: “Each of us has to wake up in the morning and give people a return on the time, energy, and money they entrust to us. This is the secret to success. If you want to succeed in work, love, friendship, and life, give the people around you a great return on whatever it is they invest in you.” Donald Miller – Business Made Simple Book

Be smart. Act safe. Keep pushing forward!

Vanslyke is the general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative.