Switching to Home Solar Power Is Already the Story of the Year

solar power photo

This is why home solar power is creeping in and stealing market share from the utilities.

More and more families are switching to home solar power as the cost of installing solar panels continue to drop to levels people can easily afford. The cost of solar panels has dropped by 100 times since 1977 and today solar panels are half the price that they were in 2008. That’s a huge change.

Home solar power is increasingly appealing when you consider that in some households it can account for 80 percent of energy used. That’s a savings of $20,080 off a family’s net electricity costs over 20 years. This huge cost savings along with the environmental benefits of avoiding dirty coal power generation is helping residents to turn toward solar at a rate like never before. But as the use of solar power steadily increases, utility companies are starting to notice.

Utility companies are getting hit harder in states like California and Colorado where residential solar power is a real threat to their bottom line. And it presents a double whammy: it cuts into the amount of traditional power taken from the grid and additionally, the utilities have to repay residents that put additional power into the grid through the generation of solar power.

In Northern California, a part of the country that accounts for one quarter of the solar panel installation in the country, the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric wants to add a fixed monthly charge of $10 per month to offset this cost. But the solar industry contends that it’s a direct attack by an industry that for too long has depended on a monopoly to do business.

Home solar power is finally becoming a disruptive technology in the same way that cell phones were to the phone companies and it’s a problem that will continue to get worse for the big utility companies because as they lose money to solar power they’ll have to raise prices which will make solar power even more appealing.

But of course the popularity of solar varies from state to state based on the laws in place to support it. I wrote a while back that some states were doing a lot to make residential solar power appealing.

The top ten states: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, New Jersey, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Mexico include a slew of rebates and tax incentives for those that install solar panels on their homes which motivates residents to participate. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has made a commitment to solar energy, allowing his state to perform the best. It’s strange that some of the states with the least usable power have the best incentives.

What do you think? Is solar on your radar? Are you considering installing solar panels on your home and if so, what’s the biggest draw for you as a power consumer?

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Image: Peter Blanchard