CEEM goes solar - a residential install story
The choice to go solar
Tiffanie and her husband, Tom, have been in their home in Plymouth for three years. They moved in just before the pandemic and have been making the most of the house as they have been working from home for over two years now. They have seen their energy usage and bills creep up and up over the years and have been contemplating ways to reduce both their usage and bills. As Tiffanie worked more and more in the clean energy space, she felt more confident that installing an array would be a smart investment as well as a wonderful way to produce local, clean energy.
While researching options for a solar installer, the Connelly’s came across the Solar United Neighbors (SUN), a nonprofit organization working to secure group buys for solar across the state. A Twin Cities group just happened to be closing within a week of looking into it and they decided it was time to pull the trigger. Another deciding factor was the federal tax credit for solar set to reduce at the end of the year. (Note: after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, this credit is not lowering or expiring for another ten years.)
Selecting a vendor and the installation process
The SUN co-op had selected iSolar as its vendor, but for due diligence, the Connelly’s solicited bids from several other solar installers in the state. Each vendor pulls Google Earth images of the home and does an assessment of tree coverage, roof space, etc. They also assess the home’s current energy usage and with those two things in mind, they pitch a plan for the system. Each vendor had slightly different estimates on coverage, production and system size. After considering all options, they chose to move forward with iSolar and the co-op and their plan for the 11.2kW system.
Once the contracts were signed, iSolar began working on all of the necessary behind-the-scenes paperwork of pulling permits and applying for all of the necessary approvals through the utility company. They also applied for Solar*Rewards, which allows Tiffanie and Tom to receive compensation for energy produced that goes back to the grid. The interconnection process can be long and tricky, but iSolar was very efficient and everything was approved and completed in about three months.
The entire installation process took two days. The first day, a crew arrived and prepped the roof and our electrical system to accommodate the panels. The second day was the most exciting, with all of the panels being mounted and connected. Unfortunately, the process also includes several inspections and more interconnection requests, so it did take another two weeks for the switch to be “flipped on” and for the system to start producing.
The system produces an average of 50kWh/day during peak production times (like summer, when the system was installed) and has helped reduce the house’s carbon footprint and energy bills. The panels are connected to an app that Tiffanie and Tom have access to that shows production and usage and also alerts both the panel company and installer if there is an issue with any of the panels.
“I am really happy we were able to work with SUN and iSolar for this project. Our neighbors comment on our panels all the time and it is really fun to talk to them about the energy production but even more fun to tell them about the cost savings and economics of the project. People are always surprised when you mention the ROI of a solar array and how realistic of a project it is,” said Tiffanie.