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Solar Fuels A Retirement Plan #gosolar

When retirement knocked on the door of Arroyo Grande residents Angela and Mark Goble, solar answered.

Angela, a longtime Basset Hound breeder, had been interested in solar ever since her brother installed panels on his home in the 1990s. “He thought it was the most wonderful thing, so naturally, we were intrigued,” she says. They were tempted by solar again in the early 2000s when energy rates tripled and they had to abandon one of their favorite pastimes, hot – tubbing. At that time however, they still didn’t think solar would pencil out in their favor.

By 2013, with Mark nearing retirement, they began to rethink their financial picture, and whether solar energy could be a part of the plan.

They heard about a CEC Solarize workshop taking place in San Luis Obispo County and decided to investigate. Walking in, they knew next to nothing about the process or costs involved in going solar. Walking out, their decision was made.

The Solarize presentation gave them “facts without fluff” and insight into why solar investment is low-risk; with no moving parts to break, panels have a lifespan of 25 years or more. Moreover, the investment includes a 10-year, 100 percent guarantee on all the equipment, along with an additional 15-year performance guarantee on the panels themselves.

But the clincher for Angela and Mark came after the group presentation: personalized support. CEC’s Energy Program Manager, Jefferson Litten, gave them initial estimates about where the panels would go, what size and how many would fit on their roof, and helped connect them with one of the program’s partner installers, Solarponics. Most importantly, a solar consultant from Solarponics met with Angela and Mark, ran the numbers for the couple’s particular needs, and designed a custom solution based on their energy use. They liked what they saw. And while they considered financing the panels, it turned out they didn’t need to. In 2013, Angela’s Basset Hounds had three “really good litters,” which helped cover their initial cost of $28,000 before the 30% federal tax credit.

When it came to installation, they were surprised by the ease and speed of the work. Compared to their normal DIY home repair process, going solar was “blazingly fast” – the panels were installed, switched on, and producing energy in two weeks flat.

After flipping the switch, the couple’s average energy bill plummeted, from $175 a month to just $4, PG&E’s minimum monthly electric charge. With solar taking the financial burden out of the energy equation, they’re looking forward to getting a new hot tub soon. And because they are producing more electricity than they can use each month, they’re indulging in another home renovation that used to be out of the question: radiant floor heating throughout the main arteries of the house.

What would these savvy retirees recommend to others approaching their golden years?

“Get to solar. If you’re going into retirement, bringing monthly costs down is important. What better gift could you give yourself than a lower energy bill?” With solar, they get a return on a monthly basis, not to mention the $9,000 federal tax credit they will capture in their taxes on the year they installed the panels.

“People tie up thousands in the bank to get a couple hundred back each year,” Angela says, “but solar is better than any savings, cd, or mutual fund.”

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Nicole Wald

Nicole Wald is a freelance writer and educator in Santa Barbara, CA with a passion for helping the planet. She supports CEC in developing content for social media, PR, marketing, and the annual Earth Day Festival. Part of this work includes gathering stories of people along the Central Coast who consciously take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nicole Wald
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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I heard that the federal rebates will stop at the end of 2016 is this true. I was told you could write off 30% of the cost off federal taxes? Do you foreee after the 2016 deadline that they will come up with a new rebate program to get people to really consider putting in solar? Thanks.

    1. RC,
      Thanks for you note. It is indeed true that the federal investment tax credit (ITC) will be expiring at the end of 2016. And it is also true that this tax credit covers 30% of the total cost of purchasing solar panels. The tax credit is a great incentive which reduces your cost to go solar – so we recommend that if you are considering going solar, you should definitely plan to get your system installed before the end of 2016.

      We do not currently expect Congress to extend the ITC beyond 2016, however we are currently lobbying for the extension – and you can too. SEIA, a national solar lobby has put together a webpage that explains the ITC and how you can act to protect it: http://www.seia.org/policy/finance-tax/solar-investment-tax-credit

      Feel free to contact us with any questions about solar and be sure to check our Solarize page to see if there are any upcoming solar group-purchase programs in your area.

      – CEC’s Solar Team

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