Solarize Program Gaining Steam

It’s an effort to harness energy from the sun and it’s going pretty well.  The company Hannah Solar began a project to “solarize” Tybee a few months ago but the idea quickly spread and homeowners from the Savannah area quickly joined in.  The idea was kind of a bulk rate on solar panels.  The more homeowners that participated, the more of a discount they would receive on the cost of their panels.

Grant Tallon from Hannah Solar said they initially had interest from up to 300 homeowners.  He said many of them didn’t have the right sun exposure on their roofs, etc.  A total of 60 homeowners ended up participating.  “The way it works is you have the solar on your roof and you’re obviously still connected to Georgia Power or the grid,” said Tallon.  “So when the sun is down on night, that’s when you’re back on Georgia Power.  when the sun is out and you’re actually producing energy on solar panels, you’ll use up all the energy in the appliances on your home. what this really does is it actually helps to slow down your meter so that you’re actually using less from Georgia Power and more of your own.”

Steve Acuff couldn’t agree more.  He had 12 solar panels installed six weeks ago as part of the program.  ” And I started getting savings that day,” he told me.

Acuff can track almost minute by minute what the panels are doing.  “It’s making maybe 10 kilowatt hours, 12 kilowatt hours a day.  I think I will be using a third less electricity and most of that will go right into my house,” he said.

In his garage he showed me a meter that he said shows “right this second how much electricity is being made.”

The meter had tracked electricity generated since the panels were installed six weeks ago. And it read and 514 kilowatts.  That’s about half the power he would use in his home every month.  Again, that is over six weeks.

On his computer, Acuff can track what is generated every 15 minutes. He estimated that in the month of August, the panels will generate about 350 kilowatt hours, about one third of his entire need for a month.

The chart shows that about 10 o’clock each day as the sun starts to really warm his solar panels, that the electricity starts generating.  On daily charts, you can even see spots when the generation drops off which is during a thunderstorm when the sun is not shining.

Acuff believes his investment will be well worth the cost.  He says he priced solar panels about four years ago and the cost was about $27,000.  It was beyond his reach.  But he says the solarize project allowed him to buy the panels for a little less than $9,000 and a federal tax credit will be $3,000.  “So essentially, I got these panels for just about $6,000” he told me.   Acuff estimates that cost will pay for itself in ten years or less.  But says the panels are guaranteed for up to 25 years.  He believes solar power is picking up steam and will become popular.

Grant Tallon from Hannah Solar says things have gone so well that the company may consider another program.  “If we did it again we would have a much better turn out than even what we’ve had here,” he said.

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