I had chance to pull the stats from the solar panels I installed in mid-January 2015 (more details here) – and there is some good news and bad news.
- The good news: My total power production for the year (from mid-January on) was 4005.5 kilowatts. We had a pretty optimal year for solar – lots of sunny days in the summer long days, and a rainy winter when solar production is pretty much a non-issue. My solar contractor who installed the system gave me a solar power production prediction before the install, and they estimated first year power production of 3886 kilowatts – which I beat by 3.1%. So they were pretty darn accurate.
- The bad news: Solar power incentives will be dropping in 2016. Much of my payback analysis was based on the Washington State incentive structure providing 54 cents per kilowatt – the projected 2016 incentives as shown here show a much lower incentive rate. This will stretch out my payback – and it will be interesting to see what impact this will have for the expansion of solar in the Northwest. At the predicted incentive rates, new installations would have a much increased payback period. Having said that, I don’t regret the decision. Much of the cost of the system install was for the production meter installation – setting me up for future expansion of panels or replacement of existing panels with more efficient ones. I still envision the day when panels will be low cost, but the cost of retrofitting houses to produce power will not be going down.
If you are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest – further proof that summer is the time to visit. Surprisingly, we had a nice June in 2015 – combine that with the summer solstice and June was my best month for Production:
I would of expected some July days to be in there in normal years – but we had an exceptionally nice June. As far as my worst days – December 2015 was the 2nd rainiest month in Seattle history, and my numbers reflect that:
To be fair I do have some tree issues which greatly reduce my production in winter – but if you are planning on visiting in December you can likely leave the sunscreen at home (My top power day in December was 3.55 kilowatts on 12/31).
My total power consumption for the year was 8055 kilowatts, so I produced approximately 50% of the electricity I used for the year. I will be watching this trend over the years- in theory as lighting gets more efficient and panels get more efficient – I should be able to raise that percentage.
So my first year is in the books and I consider it a moderate success. If you are planning on a solar install in the Pacific Northwest – and have any questions or comments – please feel free to add a comment below.