How to Get Started
As with any energy saving appliance, we recommend you do your math and shop carefully before making a large investment for the sole purpose of spending less on your electric bill. If your goal is to just be green, this may not apply; but if you expect your investment to pay for itself and continue to produce financial benefits after your initial investment is recovered, you should proceed with a full understanding of cost and benefit. Comparing $’s per Watt of installed solar and years for simple payback is a good way to begin shopping.
Do an apples to apples comparison of the cost per watt of solar installed for any potential system you are considering. For example, a 7,000-watt system at $3.50 per watt would cost $24,500. If a proposed system costs a lot more or less than others, you might want to ask why. The cheapest system you can buy may not be the best system for your needs. There are many things you should consider before making such a large purchase, such as condition of your roof; local building codes or subdivision covenants; and state and federal incentives.
Franklin PUD does not maintain a list of installers, but we recommend you start with local installers if possible. While we do not offer utility rebates for solar systems, we do pass along net metering benefits and participate in the State’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive Program. (See below)
Understand the Process
Understand the roles and responsibilities involved in installing and connecting solar for your home. Franklin PUD has Rules for Customer Interconnection like most utilities. This means that energy you generate with a solar energy system can slow, stop and even reverse the flow of energy through your utility meter. The net metering benefit alone falls short of providing the incentive most customers are looking for if your goal is a short return on a large investment. A net metered solar system offsets retail rate energy. For example, a Franklin PUD customer with a well-oriented and normally functioning solar system 3.5 kilowatts in size could expect to see approximately 4,600 kilowatt hours generated in a year, with a total value of $310 at our current energy rate of $0.0673 per kwh. Under this scenario alone, with no other incentives or benefits, and without increases in energy costs, this system installed at $3.50/Watt will take 39.5 years to pay for itself. ($3.50 is an arbitrary number, your cost will vary)
Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive
Franklin PUD participates in the new Washington State Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive Program passed by the legislature in July 2017.
To participate, the customer’s system must be certified by the Washington State University Energy Program. Franklin PUD assists in administering the program, which pays incentives based on the fiscal year in which the system is certified. Incentives are paid for eight years, or until the cumulative incentives paid reach 50 percent of the total system price. Incentive amounts are shown below:
Residential Scale (up to 12kW) – Incentive capped at $5,000 annually
2018 - $0.16/kWh, with a $0.05 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2019 - $0.14/kWh, with a $0.04 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2020 - $0.12/kWh, with a $0.03 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2021 - $0.10/kWh, with a $0.02 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
Commercial Scale (12kW and up) – Incentives capped at $25,000 annually
2018 - $0.06/kWh, with a $0.05 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2019 - $0.04/kWh, with a $0.04 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2020 - $0.02/kWh, with a $0.03 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2021 - $0.02/kWh, with a $0.02 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
Assuming a Washington State Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive Program benefit of $.16 cents per kWh generated, on this same system you may now add $736 in state production credits to your $310 annual net metered benefit for a combined annual benefit of $1,046 and with the limitations described above (50% or 8 years), your payback period is now significantly reduced.
If you also qualify for a federal tax incentive at 30% of your purchase price, that simple payback is even further reduced. Have your installer work through this math with you and know where you stand before you invest.
Please contact our Energy Services Department at 509-546-5967 with any questions.
Cost and Benefit
What can you expect from your solar system? Since results may vary, we recommend you analyze for yourself using an online tool many solar installers use. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory maintains a reliable tool for estimating solar production with many variables you can plug in to ensure an accurate forecast of potential. NREL’s PVWATTS calculator can even use satellite imaging to look at your roof to help you determine the size of system that will fit on your home.
Franklin PUD Energy Services staff is available to help you understand solar and other energy saving technologies.