Going solar through Solarize NOVA provides a low-risk, excellent-yield investment in clean renewable energy.

So how much does it cost? A very small array of 3000 watts (3kW) – about 10 panels – should produce some $420 worth of electricity a year at today’s energy prices. At $2.55 per watt, the installation cost is $5355 after the federal tax credit. If your current electric bill averages $120/mo, a 6000W array should cover about 60% of that on a good site. A good site is critical. You want the array to face somewhat southerly and to be in full sun. Roofs can be great. Yards, fields, and parking lots work too. See more details below.

Price per watt ($/W)
 System location Roof Mount Ground Mount
 System size 3-5kW 5-10kW >10kW 5-10kW >10kW
Standard Panel + string Inverter or microinverter/DC optimizer 2.55 2.50 2.45 3.00 2.95
Buy America Compliant Panel + string Inverter or microinverter/DC optimizer 2.65 2.60 2.55 3.10 3.05

Individual system performance will vary and, depending on your home’s energy use, likely will only offset a percentage of your home’s electricity use. In addition to the campaign discounts, Solarize NOVA will help participants access the 30% federal tax credit and any local incentives, connect to affordable financing, and navigate the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market.

Sample costs and returns (for a pretty good but not perfect location)

System Size 3 kW 6 kW
Solarize Rate per Watt, Standard Panels, Roof-Mounted $2.55 $2.50
Cost Before Federal Tax Credit $7,650.00 $15,000.00
Total Cost After Federal Tax Credit (30%) $5,355.00 $10,500.00
Monthly Loan Payment* $45.19 $88.60
Average Monthly Savings – year 1** $38.20 $76.40
Average Net Monthly Cashflow – year 1 (if financed) $-6.99 $-12.20
Average Monthly Savings – year 15 $48.53 $98.89
Average Net Monthly Cashflow – year 15 (if financed) $3.35 $10.29
Cash positive on an annual basis after year  (if financed) 10 9
20yr PV “income”*** $10,983.21 $21,966.42
  • *Financing cost after tax credit with 15 yr loan at 6% interest
  • **Value of energy created plus $10 SRECs with 2% annual retail electricity inflation
  • ***Assuming net metering laws stay constant

So, for a monthly cost equal to packing your lunch a time or two each month for a few years, you could be investing in a valuable asset that generates clean, renewable power starting today – and is generating a positive cashflow within about 10 years. That’s if you are borrowing for an installation. Paying cash, these systems are paid off in less than 12 years – better than an 8% average annual ROI (compare that to the average IRA which returns 6% and you pay fees).

There’s no obligation to get started, just click on your community’s link below:

Solarize Vienna, Solarize Falls Church, Solarize City of Fairfax, and Solarize Fairfax County will all take place 4/18/17 through 6/30/17.