"I've been fascinated by the idea of turning the sun's energy into electricity since my 8th grade science fair project. Even though solar panels are a significant investment, they match our style of making a capital investment now for a payoff every year for decades into the future. Electric utility rates don't fluctuate as much as gas prices, but I've only noticed them going up since we've lived in Utah for the last 27 years, so the rate of return will increase as time goes on (at least until the panels get to their useful life.)
Modern solar PV systems are all basically the same, but through our research, my wife Mary Beth and I learned that there are a lot of details to be aware of. For example, the manufacturers involved, their warranties, the size and efficiency of the panels and the type of inverter(s) you choose. We got bids from a few of the many solar installers in Utah and were amazed at the difference in prices for the installed systems. In the end, the most important decision for us was what type of inverter to go with, and we decided micro-inverters were the best bet because of the potential for shading on some of our panels late in the year as well as their easy expandability.
Once we decided what type of system we wanted, we kept an eye on solar PV panel prices for several years. As the systems were hovering in the neighborhood of $4/watt, we felt we were getting closer to adding some panels, but they were still a little expensive for our budget and decided that $3/watt was our goal price.
We went to the first Mountain Town Community Solar workshop in March and were psyched to hear that we could get a system installed for $2.92/watt – less than our goal of $3/watt. The bonus was that there were no surprises – no additional fees or taxes added.
Another factor that influenced our decision to get solar panels now was our recent purchase of an electric car. We sized our system to more than offset the use of the car and feel really good about powering all our trips and errands around town with the sun's energy.
Our system has been fully operational for several weeks now. Alpenglow Solar and Mountain Town Community Solar made it super easy for us. All we had to do was decide what size system to go with. The installation took less than a day, and from the time of our visit to the Mountain Town Community Solar workshop to a fully running system was less than 3 months. I pretty enthusiastically watch the monitoring reports to see how much energy we generate every day. The best part so far is that we are exceeding Alpenglow Solar's estimates of what we would produce, which means even a quicker payoff period!"
-Mark & Mary Beth Maziarz of Park City
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