Hi, I posted here last year to let you know that we had purchased solar panels through Solar City and wanted to update the group on their performance so far. We purchased a $26K system with a $14.5K DWP rebate assignment- after our tax credit the system cost us about $8K. We purchased directly from Solar City but used the 1BOG negotiated rate.
We chose to purchase since we plan to stay here for the for seeable future and figured in the long run it would be cheaper to purchase rather than make lease payments indefinitely. However with the lease you get a performance guarantee on the panels and you don't get that with the purchase.
We installed the panels in August but it took until November to get everything hooked up into the grid. Our first electric bill, which reflected about 6 weeks of activity which included the solar panels, was actually a little higher than the same period last year. I called both Solar City and the LADWP thinking maybe there was a problem with the meter not registering the solar "credit" coming from the panels. Both told us not to worry and to wait a year to see what our average energy savings would be. The next bill (Jan-Mar) was a little better, but still only reflected about 500 Kwh of savings- half of what the Solar Guard monitoring system tells us the panels generated during that period. I'm pretty sure our electicity usage hasn't gone up significantly- we've been fairly consistent over the past couple of years. So I'm not sure what is going on with our bill, but so far our cost savings have been minimal. Looking just at the Solar Guard monitoring system, we're generating less than 1/3 of our total usage. The cash proposal we got when buying the system (which was based on our exact system and our energy usage for the previous 12 months) promised a 77% total bill offset- we're not even close so far. At this rate, instead of taking 7-8 years for the system to pay for itself, it could take 20 years.
I'm sitting on my hands for now because I need to wait and see how the system performs over the course of a year, especially over the summer months. Hopefully we'll see a huge improvement then. I just want people considering solar to know that the bill offset numbers promised may not quite be what you really get, and if you can get a performance guarantee (i.e. through a lease plan) you might be better off.
I'd love to hear from others who have had the panels for at least a few months to find out how theirs are performing.