To the Editor:
My wife and I haven’t used a drop of heating oil since 1979 when we moved into our solar-heated home built by Spencer Dickinson.
We had wanted to also have a PV (photovoltaic) system to generate electricity from the sun. But the south slope of our roof was already occupied by the solar-heat-collecting panels.
So we recently decided to put PV panels on the garage roof. This required removal of trees to let sunlight through. The area of the south slope of the garage roof limited us to a modest-sized 3.8 kilowatt system. Tom Wineman of Clean Energy Design installed it in December.
Snow on the panels limited the electricity generated during January and February. But in the following four months (March through June) the PV system generated more electricity than we used. Each month we used about 350 kWh (kilowatt-hours) while generating about 400 kWh. Thanks to “net metering,” our electric meter runs backwards and our electric bills are zero.
Federal and state tax credits available in 2010 covered 40 percent of the cost of the system. Nevertheless, we have no delusions that the system will pay for itself in our lifetimes – unless electricity becomes a great deal more expensive than it is today. Instead we have the satisfaction of, thus far, having kept some 1,400 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.