At the end of last year, my wife and I decided to make an important decision about a significant additional investment in our Florida home. We are going to install a solar energy system in an attempt to generate most of our electrical power.
I’ve always been a proponent of self-sufficiency as well as alternative and renewable energy sources. In Florida, we have an abundance of year-round sunshine, and my home has mostly optimal exposure to the southern sky. Not only that, but living close to the Florida coastline also means we are subject to periodic infrastructure disruption by weather events such as hurricanes. We also get occasional brownouts and blackouts that can last several hours at a time during heavy strain on the regional power grid in hot summer weather — so it would appear that we are an ideal residence for installing a solar array.
My wife and I have lived in South Florida since December of 2012. So, why have we waited so long to do this? Much of the reluctance was the cost of doing the install and the difficulty in finding an experienced solar installer willing to perform work in our area. Additionally, until about two and a half years ago, in Florida, there was no way to sell power back to the grid, nor was it legal to store energy in a large battery for backup purposes or nighttime use.
The tax incentives also were not conducive to making the overall investment; it worked out that it would have taken about 20 years to break even. So, when we first looked at this over three years ago, it didn’t make sense.
But things have changed. From 2016 to 2019, there was a 30% federal tax credit (also known as the ITC) for new solar projects. This credit for 2020 is now 26%. Additionally, Florida Power and Light (FPL) customers can now sign up for net metering, which is the ability to sell power back to the grid when you produce more than you consume.
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