Now that we have the solar energy panels ONLINE and producing electricity resulting in DRAMATICALLY LOWER bills from both PGandE and a company called “Kilowatt Systems” (I believe if memory serves correctly) I can’t believe it.
Our first PGandE bill was a $39.95 CREDIT BALANCE – no payment required. Our next one was for $24.26 because we used about $59 in gas but only $4.58 of PGandE electricity and they applied the credit to it. Our only bill from Killowatt Systems for the solar energy portion was only $39.46, Our usual bills were probably averaging $150 (or more) to $350 (in the summer) before conversion to solar.
Since we we lease the system, there was no out-of-pocket costs at all for them to install everything (very complicated), schedule and perform the multiple inspections that must take place before you can turn it on, and since we don’t own it, they constantly monitor it over over high-speed internet connection to their system on our house and maintain it for free since it is THEIR system, not ours. All we will conceivably have to pay next year is about $25 (one dollar a panel and we have 25 solar panels) to have some service come and clean them thoroughly once a year so that they receive the optimum amount of sunlight since dirty panels would put out less electricity. Once a year we will have a reconciliation bill (with Real Goods and/or PGandE, not sure) if we did not produce enough energy over a whole year to cover expenses. It should not be very much since on most sunny days our new PGandE meter designed for solar systems is “running backwards” telling me that Real Goods is selling electricity BACK to PGandE’s grid (for which they profit from).
I can even logon to 2 websites to monitor our system, telling us how much energy we make hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and even year by year. If the monitoring company detects a problem in our system, they automatically dispatch a technician to our home to fix the problem for free since it’s their property.
I can’t figure out why more people don’t lease a system from Real Goods (you can also make payments to buy it, but then you probably have to pay for maintenance/etc. since it is your property, not theirs.
The only negative probably other than the two days of loud roof noise as they installed the hardware on the roof was the approximately 3 months it takes to get the 2 inspections (I believe) by Real Goods (then they fixed the problems the inspectors found), followed by scheduling and waiting for the inspections by the City and lastly the inspections (two) by PGandE. When they called and emailed us that we could turn it on, my wife rapidly and easily and went out to throw the 5 circuit breakers involved and instantly we were making lots of electricity (it was a warm/sunny day) and they were selling energy to PGandE instead of USING energy from PGandE.
Summary: I highly recommend this company and would love to refer them to someone. When we installed our systems we not only didn’t pay anything but were promised a $500 rebate. If we can refer Real Goods Solar to someone, that person will get a $500 rebate as well (if they log on here and write a story) and we will get ANOTHER $500 rebate as well – it’s a WIN-WIN situation for consumers.