How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar in Jacksonville, Florida
If you live in sunny Jacksonville, Florida making an investment in a solar panel energy system can help power your home, heat your pool, and significantly decrease the price of your monthly utility bills–all while decreasing your environmental footprint. Now is the perfect time to invest in a solar energy system for your home as prices for solar technology are lower than ever.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of installing solar panels on the average home has plummeted 70% since 1998, from nearly $86,000 for a 5-kilowatt installation (the average size residential system) to just $26,000 in 2014. An average residential solar system in Florida costs between $15,000-25,000. Considering that you will probably spend at least $72,000 powering your home over the next 25 years, the initial cost of a solar energy system seems well worth the investment.
The exact cost of your solar energy system will depend on the size of your home, the type of solar installation you choose (solar panels, solar shingles, etc.), and any applicable rebates or utility incentives available in your area. Unfortunately, unlike most states, Florida does not have a Renewable Portfolio Standard in place, so utilities have little-to-no motivation to create incentives for their customers to adopt solar. That said, a qualified solar installer should be familiar with any local incentives to ensure that you get the most from your investment.
Working with the Utility Company–Jacksonville Electric Authority
Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) has been working to increase its renewable energy assets by making investments in methane gas, wind, biomass, and solar. JEA currently receives about 22,430 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity a year from a solar farm on the Westside. This is enough energy to serve approximately 1,450 Jacksonville households. The 12 Megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) facility consists of approximately 213,000 photovoltaic panels on a 100 acre site. JEA receives all the electricity from the solar farm, which helps avoid approximately 22,430 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. JEA plans to add 38MW of utility scale solar electric generation capacity by the end of 2016, this would bring JEA’s total solar energy portfolio to 50 MW–the equivalent of powering 7,080 homes in Jacksonville.
For customers (residential or business) who decide to invest in a solar energy system, JEA offers net metering. Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. As a JEA customer, you will be charged for the metered kWh received from JEA during each month. At the same time, you’ll receive credits for the metered kWh sent to JEA from your solar system each month. You can accrue any credit balance (no cap) from month-to-month through the end of the calendar year. At the end of the calendar year, your credits do expire, but JEA will pay out any credit balances directly to the customer, which could provide a nice chunk of change at the end of the year.
To be eligible for net metering, JEA requires that your solar energy system be installed within the guidelines of its engineering standard ES 20202 902 Parallel Operations & Interconnection of DG Facilities on the Distribution System. Compliance with the standard are required to ensure that the proper equipment is installed to protect JEA personnel working on circuits where customer renewable systems may be grid-tied.
Rebates and Incentives
You can receive a federal tax credit for your solar system–up to 30% of the cost of your system with no upper limit. Existing homes and new construction qualify for the credit, as well as principal residences and secondary homes. Rental properties are not eligible for the credit. These credits expire on December 31, 2016. Credits are available for both solar panels and solar water heaters.
Do I Need to Get My Solar Energy System Approved by My Homeowner’s Association?
Yes and no. Your right to install a solar energy system is protected by The Florida Solar Rights Act. This Act forbids any entity—including your homeowner associations (HOA)—from prohibiting the installation of solar or other renewable energy devices on your home or business. That said, your HOA is not completely without rights. Many HOA’s require consultation prior to your system being installed, and may enforce some restrictions around how the system is installed. Any restrictions must be reasonable and applied in a uniform manner for all association members. Also, any restrictions must not have the effect of impairing the performance (i.e. placing panels under trees or or on a portion of the roof that doesn’t receive direct sunlight) or increasing the cost of your solar energy system.