Home Cryptocurrency

With Yakima Valley's abundant sunshine, more homeowners turning to solar energy – Yakima Herald-Republic

Ads

Solar panels are seen in the backyard of a home in Yakima, Wash. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
In this photo provided by AllCities Solar, Koby Snider installs railings for solar panels at a home near Cowiche Mill Road in February of this year.
In this photo provided by AllCities Solar, Koby Snider and Cameron Macias install solar panels at a home near Cowiche Mill Road in February of this year.
Solar panels are seen in the backyard of a home in Yakima, Wash. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
Solar panels are seen in the backyard of a home in Yakima, Wash. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
In this photo provided by AllCities Solar, Koby Snider and Cameron Macias install solar panels at a home near Cowiche Mill Road in February of this year.
Solar panels are seen in the backyard of a home in Yakima, Wash. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
In many parts of the country, residents who install solar panels are primarily doing it for environmental reasons.
While that also may be a motivation in Central Washington, Paul Comiskey, general manager of AllCities Solar in Yakima, said there’s another “green” factor at work here — with our abundant sunshine, solar energy can save residents money.
“It’s a really good financial decision,” Comiskey said of solar power for Yakima Valley residents. “We get a year-round average of 5.68 hours of sunshine a day, so we have a good idea how much power (solar) will produce.”
That sunshine makes a difference, especially compared to Western Washington.
“In the (Interstate) 5 corridor, they have about an hour and three-quarters of sunshine a day, so it doesn’t pan out the same,” he said.
Glenn Denman, a building official with the city of Yakima, said the number of permits issued for residential solar panels saw a significant increase in 2021, and that pattern has continued this year.
The number of residential solar panel permits was between 21 and 29 from 2017 to 2020, with 28 permits issued in 2020.
“Then we had 41 permits (for solar panels) in 2021, and so far this year we’re already at 24, not even halfway through the year,” Denman said. “It’s been a popular option for homeowners lately.”
Syed Mujtaba, CEO of Solora Solar, has seen the demand for residential solar panels increase every year since he founded the company in 2011. Last year, his company installed more than 100 projects in the Tri-Cities, Yakima and points between.
“Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of people wanting to have a greater sense of security. They feel the (power) grid is becoming more unreliable,” Mujtaba said. “I’d say 70-80% of installations last year were with storage.
“And the battery technology — especially with the lithium ion battery — is becoming so reliable. A lot of people are using that,” he added.
In this photo provided by AllCities Solar, Koby Snider installs railings for solar panels at a home near Cowiche Mill Road in February of this year.
Both Mujtaba and Comiskey, of AllCities Solar, say a goal for many customers is to become a “net zero” home, meaning they generate as much solar power as they use. The key, Comiskey said, is knowing how much power you’re currently using and how many solar panels it will take to generate that amount.
“There will be months, like during the summer, that you’ll be producing more power than you’re using. That’s why storing power (with batteries) is important,” Comiskey said. “It’s getting to a point here where we’re real close to net zero … we try to get (energy use and production) to plus or minus 2%.”
“You don’t want to oversize your solar system, but you don’t want to undersize it,” Mujtaba said. “You have to account for your energy needs, and budget.”
There’s also a limit to how much of your roof can be covered with solar panels, city building official Denman noted. At least part of the roof must be accessible in case of a fire, for example. Panels set up on the ground or on the roof of a separate carport do not have this limitation, Denman said.
He said the process of approval for solar panels is relatively straightforward. The city or county issues a building permit, and the state’s Labor and Industries department issues an electrical permit.
Usually the company installing panels handles these permits, along with metering and other utility company considerations, Mujtaba said.
“As long as the solar panels don’t add more than 4 pounds per square foot to your roof load, you can add (panels) to your roof without having to re-examine the structure,” Denman said.
Improvements to panels and framing usually keep the additional roof load below that threshold, said William Thomas, lead installation manager at AllCities Solar.
“The railings are aluminum, and panels are a lot lighter than they used to be,” said Thomas. “The technology keeps getting better and better.”
The environmental benefits of solar panels are fairly obvious. They take UV sunlight and convert it into usable energy, without burning any fossil fuels and avoiding the waste disposal issues of nuclear power.
But the financial costs and gains of using solar power are rather complex. Much of the cost is upfront, in the setup and installation of the system, although that can be offset by federal and state financial incentives.
The website consumeraffairs.com has researched the cost of residential solar panel installation across the county, and found Washington to be the “greenest” state regarding local incentives and tax credits, followed by Oregon and New Hampshire.
It lists starting cost estimates for a 6 kW solar system, which equates to about six panels, in each state for the year 2020, and found an average initial cost of $14,040 for Washington state. That figure does not account for two major incentives — the federal government’s solar investment tax credit, and the state of Washington’s sales tax exemption.
The federal government first enacted a solar investment tax credit (ITC) in 2006, which allows a person who installs solar panels on the roof of their home or business to claim a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the income taxes that they would normally pay to the federal government.
According to the Washington state Utilities and Tax Commission, the amount of this federal tax reduction is currently capped at 26% of the amount invested in the solar array. The 26% reduction will stay in place for all projects that begin construction before Dec. 31, 2022. It will then drop to 22% for projects that begin construction in 2023. On Jan. 1, 2024, the ITC is scheduled to expire for residential customers, and drop to 10% for commercial customers.
Washington also provides a sales tax exemption for solar energy systems, such as rooftop solar panels. The exemption is available through 2029 and can exempt sales taxes for the purchase of machinery, equipment, and installation of solar energy systems.
So for the $14,040 average installation cost for Washington state referenced above, the federal tax credit would be $3,605.40 through the end of this year, and the state sales tax exemption would save $912.60.
Comiskey believes the biggest financial incentive of all for residents is the cash-flow gain “for what you’re not paying in inflation.”
He noted that on average, the price of what customers pay for power across Washington state increases about 6% each year. If a solar customer is able to approach net zero with their energy production and use, their energy cost remains level for the next five, 10 and even 20 years.
During that time, if the customer did not have solar energy, they would pay tens of thousands to their utility company as inflation boosts their energy costs over the next 20 years, Comiskey said.
“You’re leveling out your energy costs, and avoiding paying more for them each year due to inflation,” he added. “That’s a cash flow gain.”
It’s the combination of financial incentives — federal/state incentives, cash flow gain and likely increase in property values — that join with our region’s plentiful sunshine to make solar a sound long-range investment, Comiskey said.
“Yakima is the perfect spot for solar because we get the most sunshine in all of Washington,” added Thomas, AllCities Solar’s lead installer.
Contact Joel Donofrio at jdonofrio@yakimaherald.com.
2017: 29 permits
2018: 21 permits
2019: 27 permits
2020: 28 permits
2021: 41 permits
2022: 24 permits (through April 14)
Source: City of Yakima building official Glenn Denman
Your comment has been submitted.

Reported
There was a problem reporting this.

Solar is a no brainer. Tax incentives should be higher for regions with greater sun benefit. Good article.
Log in to reply
Comments can only be made on article within the first 3 days of publication.
Sign up to receive news and updates from this site directly to our desktop.
News Alerts
Sports Alerts
Weather Alerts
Click on the bell icon to manage your notifications at any time.
Success! Please click the ‘Allow’ button in the ‘Show Notifcations’ alert in your browser if one is available. Thank you for signing up!
Please enable notifications in your browser and reload the page.
You are already subscribed to this topic.
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

source

Ads
Previous articleBitcoin Price Breaks Out to Highest in Almost 3 Weeks – CoinDesk
Next articleMichael Saylor on buying bitcoin forever, Biden's crypto order and more – CNBC