Published on January 21st, 2019 | by Steve Hanley0
The Rooftop Solar “Neighborhood Effect” Transforms Florida Community
January 21st, 2019 by Steve Hanley
Almost a year ago, CleanTechnica reader Rich Blair walked into his local Tesla store to ask about rooftop solar system. He met up with Morgan Harding, who became his Tesla solar adviser. Within a short time, Blair had a 19.825 kilowatt solar array — 61 panels x 325 watts each — with 3 inverters on the roof of his home in Venice, Florida. Since then, 6 of his neighbors have installed Tesla rooftop solar systems of their own. That means 10% of the 70 homes in his Stonewalk community are now Tesla solar customers.
Why? Mostly it was pure economics. Blair, who owns a Tesla Model S, was sending $400 a month on average to Florida Power & Light, thanks to having two teenagers in the house and two 80-gallon electric hot water heaters. His monthly payment on the Tesla rooftop system comes to $308. That includes a Powerwall residential storage battery, which is on backorder due to high demand but should be installed shortly. The federal tax credit is sweet, too, wiping out Blair’s entire 2018 federal tax bill.
The utility company pays Blair for any electricity he feeds back into the grid. The reimbursement rate is only about 20% of the retail rate the utility charges its customers but, until his Powerwall gets installed, every little bit helps. As of January 20, his solar system has produced 167% more electricity than Blair’s home has used this month.
FP&L doesn’t pay solar customers for excess energy every month. Instead it maintains a “bank account” of excess production throughout the year, then zeroes out the account on December 31 each year. Any excess is refunded in the form of a credit on the January bill.
Rich Blair had been investigating rooftop solar systems for some time. He lives in sunny Florida, after all. Why did he end up doing business with Tesla? “I compared 4 different solar companies and went with Tesla because they offered a more turnkey solution. My decision to go solar was not only about reducing my carbon footprint, but also about what was economically feasible.”
The Tesla solar referral program was part of his decision. With 6 neighbors already purchasing systems from Tesla, it’s clear the referral system works. “But reducing my carbon footprint and the financial feasibility were also motivating factors,” Blair says. There are other advantages as well. As soon as his Powerwall gets installed, he will be better able to charge his Model S with solar power any time of day. Also, “The cost of my solar system is fixed while electricity rates goes up every year,” he adds.
Blair also has high praise for Florida Power & Light. “Our electric provider, unlike some utilities, was great to work with and swapped the net meter within a few days after the county inspection. The county inspector, who sees a lot of new solar systems, had nothing but praise for Tesla.”