Fresno, California residents are in a prime location for powering their homes with clean, renewable solar energy.
Fresno has an annual total of 3,550 hours of sunshine. While the cost of a residential photovoltaic (PV) system can vary according to factors such as the home’s orientation to the sun, the brand, model and how many solar panels are needed, low average costs should encourage Fresno residents to investigate further.
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Here’s how the largest inland city in California shapes up for solar.
The Average System
The average residence in the United States consumes 908 kilowatt hours of electricity every month. In Fresno, that costs about $150 each month. An average residential solar system for Fresno would be sized between 3 to 4.5 kilowatts. About 375 square feet of roof area would be required for the solar panels. Before rebates from incentive programs, the cost for the system would be about $30,000.
Rebates and Tax Incentives
In an effort to meet nationwide clean energy goals, the federal government offers a tax credit to homeowners who install residential PV systems. The credits pays for up to 30 percent of the upfront costs of installation. For the Fresno example, the credit would cover $10,000, bringing the system’s cost down to $20,000.
As is the case in most states, California requires public utilities to invest in renewable energy. Utilities are allowed to partially meet that mandate by offering per-watt rebates to customers who install PV systems. The California Public Utility Commission oversees the current utility rebate program, which is set up to step down the per-watt rebate amount as participation in the program grows.
Fresno is served by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and that program is currently in the ninth step of the ten-step program, offering $.25 per system size watt. For the Fresno solar system, that’s about $1,000, reducing the system cost to $19,000.
Here’s how home solar typically adds up:
- Average Monthly Utility Savings: $126 to $265
- Average Annual Utility Savings: $1,509 to $3,185
- 25-year Utility Savings: $37,723 to $79,613
- Property Value Increase: $28,000
- Greenhouse Gas Saved over Life of System: 110 tons
Fresno residents can take advantage of tiered rates, time-of-use (TOU) metering and net-metering to save even more. For more on property value increases, check out the Lawrence Berkeley report on how solar panels increase the selling price of your home.
Utilities estimate how much electricity a customer will use, known as the base rate. When customers use more, they move into a more expensive tier. Residential PV systems can keep customers in the base rate tier, saving money.
Utilities like PG&E also charge more for electricity during peak demand periods. Fortunately, peak demand periods typically occur during the afternoon, when solar panels are usually operating at top efficiency.
Whenever a residential solar system is generating more electricity than the home is using, the electricity is fed back into the electrical grid. In California, electrical utilities generally credit the homeowner’s electril bill.
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