• Location:

    Washington, DC

  • System Size:

    2.975 kW

  • Estimated Monthly Production:

    357 kWh

  • Projected Savings This Year:

    $559

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Andy and Randi are both environmental lobbyists who believe that they should “walk the talk,” and are doing so with solar power. The Astrum Solar installation on their DC home is Andy’s fourth photovoltaic system purchase. Andy’s other experiences with solar were on homes in Oregon.

“The choice is the right thing to do environmentally and the right thing to do financially. Most folks don’t appreciate how rational an investment it is. It’s good for the pocketbook and good for the Earth,” said Andy. I have often wondered why people have different requirements for the return on solar than on their 401(k). Money you don’t have to spend on electricity is money you don’t have to earn and pay taxes on. It’s not a question of whether solar electricity is affordable; the question is how you can afford not to go solar.”

Inverter technology has been improving dramatically over the years since my first system installation in 2000. I get the maximum power production with Enphase. They are the “state-of-the-art” of today.

“I originally projected a 20% return on investment, assuming that electric prices would increase 4.2% per year using a 10-year investment horizon. If you look at the likely 25-year life of the system it would be even better. As projected originally, it took 1.3 years for my initial net investment to payback. After all the various available incentives and with the first year of electricity savings, at the end of the first year, I was just still $179 out-of-pocket,” said Andy. “I just updated my analysis after 2 ½ years and, even assuming no increase in electricity rates for the next eight years, the result was a return on investment of 20.83%. I am happy to share my analysis with others considering solar.”

When the Capitol Hill Energy Coop was formed, Andy was recruited to be part of the steering committee because of his technical expertise and PV solar experience. Astrum Solar was one of the 10-12 companies the steering committee interviewed and was one of four companies that made the final Coop list of vetted vendors. Andy invited three of these companies, including Astrum Solar, to bid on his own project. “Astrum Solar appeared professional and knew what they were talking about. I chose them because of their pricing, their use of Enphase microinverters and the company culture,” said Andy.

“Inverter technology has been improving dramatically over the years since my first system installation in 2000.” Andy further explains, “In a tight urban environment with a central inverter, if you shade one panel, they all lose production. With microinverters that doesn’t happen. I get the maximum power production with Enphase. They are the “state-of-the-art” of today. Plus, it is fun to look at the online performance monitor.”

“My experience with Astrum Solar was pretty painless. With them pulling the permits, helping get the District of Columbia subsidy, and buying the Solar Renewable Energy Credits, it made it all easier.”

“It is not the first time so I knew what to expect. But nonetheless, it is still fun as ever to watch the meter spin backward,” said Andy.

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