Planning a Home Solar Power System
The size, cost, and energy output of a home solar installation varies depending on available roof or ground space, home energy consumption, annual solar input, state and federal incentives, and local electricity rates. Home solar panel systems typically have 25 year warranties, which reflect high reliability and minimal maintenance and repair costs. There are a number of solar companies in Michigan that can help you plan your solar project but you can start by using the National Renewable Energy Lab’s solar installation calculator.
Financing a Home Solar Power System
There is a generous federal tax credit for solar installations that allows you to recoup 30% of your initial solar investment along with a federal incentive for residential fuel cells. Interestingly enough, higher electricity rates help decrease payback periods through net-metering programs. The net-metering program through DTE Energy, allows you to receive a credit on your utility bill for any solar energy production surplus. These credits never expire, so you can accumulate them throughout the summer and cash in on them in the winter. Because energy prices in our state are slightly higher than the national average, you get paid more per kilowatt-hour of solar produced. Solar installations can also increase home value by returning 97% of the original investment, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Connecting to the Grid
In Farmington and Farmington Hills, electricity is supplied by DTE Energy. While your solar panels will be producing electricity throughout the day to power your home, you are still tied to the grid. This is done to make sure your power stays on, so even when your panels aren't producing enough to meet your home's energy demands, the deficit is made up by your utility's power. If you have a solar energy surplus, this energy is sent into the grid and you will receive a credit from your utility through a net-metering program.
What is Community Solar?
You can invest in a solar power system on your own home or participate in a Community Solar project. Community Solar projects are popping up in cities across the state including the Solar Up North Alliance in Traverse City and Michigan Community Solar in East Lansing. Community Solar is a solar power plant shared by multiple households. The panels are located at a neutral site where they are leased to local community members. The energy generated by a Community Solar project is sent into the grid. Participants then receive a credit back on their energy bill for any electricity generated by the panels that they are leasing.