“Spring is a good time,” said Andy Whipple, sales and design representative for Atlasta Solar in Grand Junction.
Indeed, the season can be a good time for the solar business for many reasons. As daylight hours increase, so does the potential to generate electricity from the sun. People can also be more aware of the possibility of using solar systems as they spend more time outside and see the panels as they drive or walk around the Grand Valley.
And there’s the continued reminder about the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems installed prior to 2017. While some tax credits were reduced or vanished in the midst of federal budget cuts, the residential credits for renewable energy systems continue.
In addition to providing electricity, solar systems can heat water for showers or washing clothes, in turn reducing the use of natural gas. The result can be a 15 percent drop in utility bills, Whipple said.
While solar systems produce low-cost energy, they can at times produce more electricity than a home needs, giving the owner an opportunity to sell power to a public utility, including Xcel Energy.
Recent improvements in solar systems include a micro converter and monitoring system that allows owners to use the Internet to see how much power each panel produces. Panels can be adjusted to increase their exposure to the sun.
For people reluctant to purchase a system that can cost $10,000 up front, Whipple said his company has started a branch that leases the panels. And he reminds customers the $10,000 outlay can result in a rebate of $3,000 or $4,000 offered by Xcel in addition to the federal tax credit.
And for those who ask about the panels’ impact on a home’s roof, or about the cost involved when a roof is replaced, Whipple said there are inexpensive answers. “The cost is pretty minimal,” he said. “We took panels off a home in a day. Roofers are getting more and more used to this.”
Solar has become so popular in Mesa County that Atlasta employs 18 people, making it the largest solar company in the valley, Whipple said.
Should the sun — and tax credits —remain in place, there’s a good chance use of solar will continue to increase.