weather icon Mostly Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

What’s the deal with going 100% solar?

Two years ago, my mom, a teacher, died and left me a small but loving inheritance of several thousand dollars. It felt disturbing to get money for my mom’s death. But I vowed to honor her inheritance by spending it on solar panels.

On the new episode of the “Doug Elfman Show” (on iTunes, Android podcast apps, and DougElfman.com), I discuss this solar journey with John W. Miller, the Summerlin Energy representative who I dealt with.

If you don’t want to listen, here’s my layman’s wisdom now that I’ve been living 100 solar since December:

Last summer, sales reps at some solar companies kept telling me I couldn’t go 100 percent solar, because the roof of my 1,500-square-foot, two-story house was too small to accommodate enough Southern-sun facing panels.

I finally found a sales rep who said his company would take me to 100 percent solar by adding tiles to my west- and east-facing roof sections, but then tilting those tiles southward at the sun.

I wrote checks totalling $19,000, but my cost dropped to $12,000-plus after I got a $2,000 incentive via Nevada Energy, and a roughly $5,000 tax-incentive from the federal government.

I still pay $22 (actually $14 this month) to Nevada Energy to swap power with me, which I’m cool with, because that way I don’t have to buy a $5,000 solar battery to store my energy at home. (Elon Musk last week announced new cheaper batteries that will be built in Nevada.)

If I can ever afford to buy an electric car, I will plug it into my house, and my solar panels will pay for fueling up that car. I look forward to doing my part against BP Oil and Dick Cheney.

HOAs must by law approve solar panel applications for single-home dwellings. My HOA told me a rush of people alerted them of their intentions to go solar after news broke of the Nevada Energy rebate.

It took two half-days of work for several installers to panel my house. Then it was several weeks after that when Nevada Energy gave me a different meter. But solar was turned on quickly and easily.

The biggest flaw in the system is the federal tax incentive. You only get that dollar-for-dollar tax incentive back if you owe enough money in federal taxes. (I got mine.) In other words, to get a dollar back in solar incentive, you have to have paid a dollar in federal taxes. The U.S. government must change that program into an upfront subsidy or an outright rebate. That’s my dumb taxpayer’s opinion.

It will take about a bucket of water every six months to clean my panels.

You’re welcome, Earth. The pleasure was mine.

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. Find him on Twitter: @VegasAnonymous.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
How to watch Golden Knights-Panthers, Game 4

The Golden Knights will look to bounce back from a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday when they take the ice for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday.