By Mary O’KEEFE
A La Cañada family has gone solar in a big way and invited friends to stop by last weekend to see how the sun is saving them money.
“Equal reasons of environmental and financial,” said Bob Stauffer of his family’s decision to go solar.
Several panels line one side of the roof of the Stauffer’s home. There are no wires or connections that can be seen.
The system went live in April with Southern California Edison signing off on it the first of May. Stauffer had not seen a bill that reflects a total solar powered home but what he had noticed was that at certain times during the day he is making more power then he needs. His newly installed bi-directional digital meter runs backwards during those times.
The Stauffer family has always been environmentally aware but the real push toward solar began in February when Stauffer and his wife Holly met Phat Energy representative David Jones at the company’s booth at the Montrose Harvest Market. They began to talk at the market, then at their home and after going over the initial costs and the rebates, decided it was a good environmental and financial decision.
The state and utility companies offer incentives for those who decide to move to solar power.
“Bob was able to get a rebate from [Southern California] Edison of over $4,000,” said Marty Schaeffer, sales and marketing manager for Phat Energy. “They were also given a 30% federal tax cut.”
The tax credit is used to offset taxes owed and is good through 2016, Schaeffer said.
Some residents use that credit to offset a bonus or to increase their take-home pay, he said.
“The real key is that you get immediate cash in hand from the utility company,” he said.
Another advantage is when a resident makes more energy then they need, their utility company then pays for that power.
“They pay at a retail rates which is 12 to 14 cents [per kilowatt hour],” Schaeffer said.
He admits that is not a lot but at least it is paying the resident instead of the resident paying the company. The utility company is required to pay customers back due to a 2009 law (AB920) that was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Most utility companies, like Edison, pay on a five-tiered rate scale. Each household is given a set amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) to use in each of the tiers. The first tier is 12 cents per kWh. Once that prearranged level is met then it becomes 14 cents per kWh and that amount continues to climb to 31 cents per kWh.
“What solar does is keep us at that lower level,” Stauffer said. “The 12 or 14 cents level.”
The installation took two days and the real wait was for Edison to come out and install the meter. Now the Stauffers sit back and let the sun shine.
“My family is excited about [going solar],” Stauffer said, “and we are happy we have done so.”