It seems that everything gets politicized these days. Personally, I put much of the blame on the 24-hour news cycle and social media. After all, when your business is measured by clicks and views, the hunger for new content and “hot-button” headlines is addicting and can easily overshadow the mundane realities of fact.
As a relatively new technology that plays in a well-established market segment, solar can sometimes be an easy target for a provocative and misleading headline. Even today, when millions of satisfied solar customers are reaping the benefits of Earths’ most abundant energy resource, there is still plenty of bad information out there keeping residents in the dark about solar.
As stewards of all things renewable and electric, we’ve assembled a few of today’s most prevailing solar myths, along with the facts to counter each one.
Myth 1: The 2017 APS rate case killed solar.
Fact: We’ve written a lot recently about APS rate changes, and the new realities for new APS solar customers. Now that the rate case vote it behind us, we know with certainty what the new rate plans are, and while the old plans definitely had some distinct advantages, our calculations show that the new rate plans still offer plenty of savings potential with solar. In some cases, the ROI only shifts by a year or so. As always, the calculation is unique to each family, so the best approach is to consult a solar expert for a customized quote. If you’ve been considering solar, don’t fear, there’s still plenty of room for savings.
Myth 2: Manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than they produce.
Fact: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), reports that most commonly-used solar panels have an energy payback time of less than four years. When you consider that the vast majority of today’s panels have a peak production lifespan of 30-years (conservatively) that’s a net gain of 26 years of pollution-free solar energy. It’s also worth noting that while many solar manufacturing facilities stilly rely on antiquated, non-renewable utility power sources, the global shift toward utility scale solar and wind will continue to tip the calculation in favor of solar.
Myth 3: Solar keeps getting cheaper, so it’s best to wait.
Fact: While it’s true that solar panels panel prices are getting cheaper, there are actually several other factors that have a much larger impact on the cost of going solar. Currently there are state and federal tax incentives that can offset more than 30% of a solar purchase. The total percentage of the federal tax credit will begin decreasing in 2019, and expire at the end of 2021. In addition, power utilities are rapidly adapting to solar with new rate plans. Fortunately, legacy customers are generally grandfathered into their existing rate plans, such as the 20-year grandfathering APS allowed as part of the 2017 Rate Case. The point is that waiting too long may lock you out of great incentives and rate options that may not be there forever.
Myth 4: Solar panels harm the environment because they can’t be recycled.
Fact: The vast majority of solar panels in service today were installed within the last ten years. With a minimum life expectancy of 30 years, we won’t be facing a disposal problem for at least a few more decades. Still, recyclability is a growing focus for the solar industry, and as such, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently partnered with a group of leading panel manufactures and installer-developers to establish the national solar photovoltaic (PV) recycling program, which aims to create a nation-wide network of recyclers who can responsibly manage PV waste and prevent environmental impacts. You can read more about this initiative on the SEIA website.
If you're interested in learning more about how solar works , and how you can put Arizona’s most abundant natural resource to work for you, we invite you to download our complimentary solar whitepaper. You can also contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote.