Thinking about going solar in 2019? Here’s what you can expect to see in the areas of residential and commercial solar energy

The Solarhood team works tirelessly each and every day to connect with homeowners and business owners interested in going solar. This week, we sat down with Lindsey Smith, the Solarhood “Happiness Hero” to talk about what we should expect to see in 2019, from what it will cost to go solar, solar incentives, new technology, and states that are going to see big jumps in solar use.

Before we dive into your predictions for 2019, do you have some big takeaways from 2018 you’d like to share?

Solar is starting to be a household conversation, finally! I think the UN Climate Report really opened some people’s eyes. Folks are starting to think about how they are contributing to climate change and solar is certainly something that can help reduce your household’s carbon footprint.

What can we expect to see in residential solar in 2019?

Well, I think more and more banks are getting on board with solar and will be offering more loan options for people who want to finance their system. We will continue to see a rise in solar adoption as individuals learn more about the benefits of renewable energy. Especially since the cost of electricity and the maintenance of the grid will only continue to increase year over year.

What about solar for businesses in 2019?

Businesses are always looking for ways to reduce their overhead and solar can help most large business shave off enough peak usage to put them in a lower rate bracket. That means serious savings over time. Commercial buildings have always been good candidates for solar since their locations typically have a large, flat, unshaded area for the array. We’re seeing an increased workload or us with lots of installs for businesses across the country, which of course is great to see!

How are the tariffs affecting solar costs? Is it still a good time to go solar?

Tariffs have not been friendly to the solar industry since China was the leading exporter of panels, the downstream of that is installers here in the US were feeling the slowdown. The technology continues to improve however, and if you look at the cost of panels compared to how much they were in the 70’s (1977 $76.67 per watt, 2013 $0.74 per watt) there’s never been a better time to invest in your own system if you have good solar potential on your roof. Plus, there’s still the Federal ITC credit that allows homeowners and businesses alike to receive 30% of the installed cost as a credit on their taxes.

You work closely with lots of solar installers. What are you hearing from them as far as their expectations and hopes for 2019?

Installers are feeling that as more and more people go solar, there will be a sense that it is becoming more mainstream. That in turn makes it seem less scary for people to utilize it themselves and at the very least to understand how the technology works. Most installers offer free quotes so that makes it easy for homeowners to see what a system will cost and how much it can save them on their electricity bill. They will be looking to see a steady increase of installs as we come out of the winter season.

Tell me about those incentives I keep hearing about in Missouri. How big of a deal are they?

I am very excited about the $0.50/per watt incentive that KCP&L, Empire Electric, and Ameren are offering. It equates to thousands of dollars off the cost of a system!

Here’s how it works: For those customers who turn their system on after Jan 1st, 2019 or those who add to their systems until Dec 31st, 2023 or until funds run out, you’ll get $0.50 per watt for residential customers up to a 25kW system size.

So, for example, if my installed system size was 15kW I would get a check from KCP&L for $7,500. Commercial installs will receive the same $0.50 per watt discount up to 150kW system size ($ 75,000). It is important that customers act fast to sign up for the incentive with their utility because the incentive will decrease over time as funds get used up.

I’m always hearing of cool innovation happening in the field of solar technology, what’s the coolest new tech you’ve seen that you think we’re going to see more of?

There is certainly some innovative tech out there. Right now, there’s a startup company called Zero Mass based in Arizona, who have created a solar panel that harvests water from the air! It has implications for use in areas where drinkable water is scarce and in areas where a natural disaster has threatened the drinkable water supply. Here’s a video if you’re interested in learning more!

Do you have any predictions for what state we’re going to see the biggest growth in solar implementation?

I think Illinois will be the next state to see large-scale growth in the solar industry. The town of Evanston, just North of Chicago, has committed to becoming the first city in Illinois to have a 100% renewable electricity supply community-wide by 2030. They were the “most improved” state as far as their energy efficiency policies. I think you will see other cities making these types of pledges as well.

Even Kansas City has a Climate Protection Plan in the works reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations and the community by 30% from year 2000 levels by 2020.

Thanks for chatting with us, Lindsey. What can people do if they’re interested in going solar in 2019?

I’d definitely recommend they head to Solarhood.com and download the Solarhood app. There they’ll be able to get a free home solar assessment to find out if their home is good for solar. Then, if they decide they’re ready to make the jump to solar, we’ll connect them with local installers to get the job done!

Business owners that are interested in commercial solar can head to Solarhood.com/business and fill out a form. Then we’ll reach out to help them explore their options!