Being from Long Island I have one of the most expensive electricity costs in the entire country. My average is right in line with the linked article from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. After fees I pay .21 cents per kilowatt hour (Kwh). For comparison purposes my rate is about double the national average. As such, the idea of solar panels has always intrigued me. I can admit that my intrigue has much more to do with the saving money aspect and much less to do with the environment. Knowing myself I know I would never actually pull the trigger on a $15,000, $20,000 or even $30,000 system. The crossover time just always scared me. Then I was introduced to Vivint.
How Vivint Works
I am not a salesperson for Vivint and my information is coming from my research and a sales meeting with a local branch manager. They turn my roof into a power plant, putting up panels on their dime. As explained to me, zero out of pocket cost from me. I then buy power from them at .15 cents per Kwh. An automatic savings of 45%. If my house doesn’t produce enough power I then just buy what I need from my local power company (which I am doing anyway at the exorbitant amount highlighted above). They would then keep my federal credit of $7,500 and I get to keep my New York State Credit which I believe is $500 per year for 10 years.
Thereafter I would have a 20 year lease with them. If I needed to do repairs on my roof then it would only be $500 to take down everything and put it back. If I moved the next people would have to agree to keep it up for the remaining period, or it would be a sliding scale as to the cost to break the lease. I don’t have any plans on leaving but I wanted some type of number, so I pressed the salesman for an example. So given, the size of the system being installed (multiple roofs, 30 panels) it would be about $15,000 to remove it in year 7.
In addition to the length of time issue the only downside (and it is such a small downside) is that if solar ever becomes cheaper and I could install my own system to have full access to zero cost energy I would still be stuck in a 20 year lease. This downside is me really reaching, but it is a risk and tiny compared to the length issue.
My Experience with Vivint So Far
I am very early in the process, and as explained below I am not even sure I am going to go through with it, but so far it has been a positive experience. The sales person I am working with is professional, courteous and responsive. The materials they have presented are very clear which is nice when making such a big decision.
Calculating My Benefit with Vivint
As explained the decision is based almost entirely on money, and as such, I need to do some calculations (much like i did when I calculated how much money I would save converting from oil heat to gas heat).
|KwH||Pure PSEG Cost|
As compared to the Vivint Solar System:
|Estimated Solar Production||Solar Price||Remaining PSEG cost||Total Cost|
|Jun-13||809||$ 121.35||$ 65.94||$ 187.29|
|Jul-13||904||$ 135.60||$ 45.99||$ 181.59|
|Aug-13||865||$ 129.75||$ 7.56||$ 137.31|
|Sep-13||690||$ 103.50||$ 44.31||$ 147.81|
|Oct-13||420||$ 63.00||$ 49.35||$ 112.35|
|Nov-13||289||$ 43.35||$ 76.86||$ 120.21|
|Dec-13||202||$ 30.30||$ 150.15||$ 180.45|
|Jan-14||198||$ 29.70||$ 150.99||$ 180.69|
|Feb-14||404||$ 60.60||$ 50.09||$ 110.69|
|Mar-14||565||$ 84.75||$ 16.28||$ 101.03|
|Apr-14||874||$ 131.10||$ (47.88)||$ 83.22|
|May-14||1,030||$ 154.50||$ (80.64)||$ 73.86|
|Jun-14||809||$ 121.35||$ 48.09||$ 169.44|
So in the end I would be saving $2,269 – $1,785.93 = $483.54 per year (or $40 a month). Trust be told that is a pretty rough $40. One, it depends on both costs being constant which we know traditional energy companies are going to keep increasing rates while the solar rate is capped at 2.9%. Two, assumes those solar projections are in line with reality. If my home produces less my $40 will exponentially decreases. To be fair, I would also get a $500 credit for 10 years from NYS, but that doesn’t feel the same as money in my pocket.
I am going to write the company, but I don’t know if I am going to take a 20 year lease to save $40 a month. What if the next homeowner doesn’t want the system? What if I have a roof problem? $500 removal fee wipes out one year of savings. Seems like there is an easier way to save $40 a month.
Am I missing anything? Do you have a similar system?