Q&A with the Kimball Family who installed solar panels on their Treasure Lake home this summer.
Editor: Obviously the POA approved the installation of the solar panels on your home, but was it difficult to get approval?
James (homeowner): No it was super easy. The solar company we used did all the work. They contacted the POA, completed the paperwork, etc. The only thing we did was go down to the POA office to pick up the permit when they notified us it was ready. If there were any fees or anything like that, PowerHome Solar took care of it. Connie, who works in Property Control at the POA office, said other property owners have called to find out if solar panels are allowed but that we’re the first to submit and get approval since she’s been working here. So that’s kind of cool. Maybe now that we’ve done it other home owners will follow suit.
Editor: What made you interested in installing solar panels?
James: My wife and I are both from California where solar panels are really popular and I actually have a nephew who used to work for a solar panel company, so we were already familiar with the idea but our previous HOA wouldn’t allow their installation. We were excited to find out that we could do it here. I’m an accountant, so for me it all boiled down to: does this make sense financially? My wife probably was more interested in saving the planet and lowering our carbon footprint, but I think together both our ideals were met because it made both financial and environmental sense.
Editor: I can understand how solar panels work in a sunny state like California, but do they work in PA where it’s overcast and snowy half the year?
James: Well, we’ve only just had them installed so we haven’t been able to track how well they do in the winter months yet, but from what we understand, yes, they work during the winter because they pick up UV rays as well as sunlight. Of course, sunny days generate more energy but it all gets stored up for when you need it. For a more technical answer about how they work, and how efficient they would be on your property, I would ask one of the solar technicians. The company we used was able to answer a lot of questions before they even came out to our home just based off of satellite images of our house, etc.
Editor: What do you mean when you say the energy gets stored up for when you need it?
James: The energy that’s generated turns back our meter everyday. So if the panels generate 40 kilowatts of energy but we only consume 25 that day, then 15 kilowatts are left for us to use the following day or later in the year when perhaps it’s not so sunny. We have an app on our phone that tells us how much energy our panels are generating in real time so we can see exactly how much we’re generating and how much we’re using.
Editor: You said it makes financial sense. You’re an accountant, so tell us how you came to this conclusion.
James: Well, I can tell you how it makes financial sense for our family, but you’d have to crunch your numbers to see if it makes sense for you and your family. Basically, we pay about the same amount each month for our solar panels as our old electricity bill. Eventually our solar panels will be paid off and the only bill we’ll have to pay is a small meter fee each month to the utility company for the upkeep of our electric meter. As electricity rates continue to rise, we won’t be affected because we generate our own electricity. Plus the installation of the solar panels increases the value of our home so it’s instant equity. There are also tax advantages. This year there is a 30% federal tax incentive credit but it’s slated to go down over the next couple years so we wanted to jump on the opportunity while we still had it.
Editor: Would you recommend solar panels for other Treasure Lake homeowners?
James: Yes, but I would suggest they do their own research to find out if it’s right for them because electricity usage and sun exposure is different on every home. If you decide to contact the company we used, PowerHome Solar, tell them James Kimball referred you and I think they have a referral discount you can use, but it’s free to have them come out and give you a quote. You can reach them at http://www.powerhome.com or 800-SOLAR-15