By- Joe Wachunas — Solar Oregon Volunteer and Independent Contractor
In the past ten years, we’ve installed solar panels on my house three times. This year we’ll do it again. We save for a while, buy panels, earn our money back on sunshine, electrify more systems in our house and then repeat.
Through all the industry changes, the reduction in panel costs and fluctuating incentives, I’m often asked, when was the best time to buy? My answer: every time. Every single time we spent money on solar panels it ended up being one of the best purchases of my life.
Why? Because financials are only part of the story. While solar panels can, and should, make some economic sense, I can speak from experience (as a proud owner of 40 of them) that there is so much more to PV than ROI.
Beyond ROI — The Unquantifiable Benefits
Having solar panels means experiencing the unique, incredible and unquantifiable pride in producing your own power. As I type this article, electrons that were sitting in silicon solar cells on my roof, just a nano-second ago, are now rushing through cables and providing electricity to my computer. My car is charging on these same electrons, which are also making my dishwasher and hot water heater run. I’m harvesting energy from the sun like a plant and the ineffable satisfaction of running my entire home from this infinite clean source is enormous.
Solar panel owners also get to bask in energy independence. Gasoline prices may go up, utilities may raise rates, and yet our panels make us are immune from this variability. We’ve locked in our price of electricity, and inflation, OPEC and other energy price influencers become irrelevant.
There is also the pleasure of knowing that we’re no longer sending our money to oil state oligarchs or supporting deep water drilling; that we no longer carve coal from hillsides with our dollars or contaminate water with fracked gas. With solar panels, we are our own mini power company quietly rivaling the Enrons and Chevrons of the world. Our invested dollars not only produce clean energy but put any earnings back into our own middle class pockets.
Finally, Solar panels give us small folks the rare chance to do something empowering in the face of myriad forces beyond our control. As heat records rise and wildfire smoke contaminates our air, how great to feel part of the solution, to feel like your putting your shoulder to the wheel and pushing ourselves and our society in the clean energy direction we need to go.
It’s like buying Victory Bonds during World War II — we’re pooling small resources into a greater cause with enormous potential if there is mass buy in.
So this Earth Day 2019, take part in this Victory Panel movement. Make the decision to put solar panels on your roof. Don’t wait for perfect incentives or legislation or new shingles in 15 years or for the prices to come down more than they already have. Scientists tell us we don’t have time. Solar is within reach today and provides so many enormous personal and community benefits in addition to financial payback.
Your tomorrow is in your hands today. Buy Victory Panels.
This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Solar Oregon.