I’m Getting a Lot of Questions About a Solar Panel Installation in Orlando…

Here’s a chat I had with Steve, he’s an advocate for solar and helping to get the solar message out. The full transcript can be found below.

Steve: Hey what’s happening… Steve Duffy here with Joe Nash. We’re just getting together on a monthly basis demystifying solar. Joe is a solar consultant in Florida. He’s running into all kinds of things when it comes to questions that homeowners have. He’s getting into the legislation and seeing what kind of misinformation is going around about Solar Panel Installation in Orlando Hey Joe, welcome thanks again for joining us for a little solar chat!

Joe:  Greetings Steve! I’m doing well, thank you.

Steve: So you’re working down in the sunshine state and seeing all kinds of things happening with the solar industry. It’s a burgeoning industry and it seems like everybody’s going solar now. But like you were telling me earlier it’s really just a small percentage of people so far and the electric companies are getting nervous right?

Joe: Very much so and very disturbingly so, regarding their tactics, wow!

Steve: All right. well, let’s start there. can you just kind of tell us what is going on as far… as far as legislation in regards to solar installation in Orlando?

It’s pretty scary and if anybody wants to fact-check this, go ahead there’s been some very reputable newspapers in Tampa Bay, Miami etc. They’ve done some research to uncover some real interesting goings-on here in our current legislative session.

So long story short, Florida Power and Light is the biggest utility provider in Florida. About one percent of their customers now have solar and they’re getting very worried about their profits. As a matter of fact, I saw a customer last night, an FP&L customer and she was complaining to me how she’s got now a nine dollar extra charge for solar she doesn’t have. Basically that nine dollar extra charge is her paying for FP&L’s huge solar project.

So they get it, I mean solar is the future that’s why you know them and Disney, you know they’re investing heavily in solar because they know that it’s very cost-effective and a cheap way to produce a lot of energy. It’s a great investment. But what they don’t like is when Florida residents go solar,. FP&L drafted legislation, a bill hand-delivered to a state representative in Jacksonville. Who was to introduce this to the floor and quickly made a ten thousand dollar donation to her and now it’s being kicked around.

Records from the Florida Senate show that Florida Power & Light drafted the bill, and lobbyist John Holley delivered it to Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Florida Power & Light’s parent company followed up with a $10,000 contribution to her political committee.

Catalyst Miami

What’s The Impact of Florida’s Proposed Solar Legislation SB 1024 and HB 74 on Florida Solar Installations?

So basically if this bill passes it would basically destroy net metering which is the way that solar works in Florida. Where all you’re doing is swapping kilowatt-hours. I produce a kilowatt-hour and give it to you and then when I need it you give it back. There’s really no change.

They would change the structure of that to where instead of you getting full credit for the kilowatt-hour you gave them, you’d be only getting credit for what they’re buying electricity wholesale.

Which of course is a fraction of what they actually charge you if they’re they’re charging you 12 or 14 cents a kilowatt-hour they’re probably only paying around three cents for that kilowatt-hour, So when you’re making power and you’re getting credited at a far less cost it’s going to take much more time to get your return on your solar installation in Orlando.

There have been tens of thousands of jobs that have been created in Florida and really only about one percent of Floridians have gone solar residential. This would basically destroy the solar industry because the power companies are very greedy as we all know it’s a monopoly and they want to strengthen their monopoly on you and tell you what you can and can’t do on your own roof. It’s unbelievable.

Steve: There are words for that kind of government and it’s not a democracy and it’s not representing the people obviously. But from what I understand and a little bit that I’ve looked into it, they are getting a ton of pushback on that. This makes sense because there are so many people that are benefiting from solar now and you know you’re locking in your energy costs. Do we have any idea how much the energy rates are going to go up over another decade?

Florida Energy Costs Keep Rising

Joe:  It’s at least four percent a year when you when look at it, if you look at what that really equates to say twenty years out you’re literally going to be paying double for your power in less than twenty years. At that type of rate increase electric customers are paying for their solar installations.

That was another little shady thing that happened… the board that regulates utilities and insurance- tends to moderate the rate hikes (that they want) just basically gave the utility companies carte blanche. They can raise their rates whatever they want and they’re basically taking money from customers today to pay for their investments for tomorrow.

What Florida Solar Incentives Are Available?

Steve: That just adds to the confusion that people are already dealing with so as of right now you have the federal solar tax credit which is saving consumers on the price of a solar installation in Florida, making it more worthwhile for them to get solar. It makes it a better deal for them and right now you said it’s like what twenty-six percent but in coming years it’s set to decline right?

Yes and no. That’s another interesting topic so you know whenever I’m online you know scrolling through Facebook YouTube I get these ads that say hey with the new Florida solar incentive, it’s zero cost to you. Okay if you didn’t hear what I just said like five minutes ago there is no Florida incentive. That goes for solar installation in Orlando obviously as well.

Florida is doing everything they can here in the land of sunshine to squash this for you and me. So they get it, the only incentives right now are federal incentives and that is a 30% income tax credit so the thing is (people that don’t have any taxable income), or very little taxable income, they’re not able to take advantage of that credit.

If you have a forty thousand dollar solar array and you know the government’s gonna pay for roughly ten thousand dollars of that, you have to have ten thousand dollars in tax liability in the first place in order to enjoy that credit.

If you’re on social security you have very little if any taxable income then you’re not going to get that credit and if some solar guy is telling you that you are they’re lying. This brings me back to the no cost due to Florida’s no-cost solar incentive that’s a lie from the start.

There’s no such thing… there is no incentive for a solar installation in Florida to help you go solar. The only thing there is what the federal government is putting out with the 26 percent tax credit and that’s scheduled to drop to 22 percent next year 2023 and unless new legislation has passed there will be no  solar incentive.

There will be no investment from the federal government to help you defray the cost of going solar and that doesn’t even get into the weeds of what if I want to go solar and I don’t have that type of tax liability? Just the whole model is very skewed and definitely needs to be looked at if we really do want to try to reduce our carbon emissions and go green. We say we do but that’s not what’s happening.

Steve: In many cases it it is due to industries that are profiting off of the way things are…

Joe:  Let me just sum it up in one word it’s greed.

Steve: It’s too bad, we would hope to be moving past that as a civilization.

What Are Solar Tax Calculators?

Steve: If we don’t know if solar is right for us right a lot of times we’ll go online and look at a solar calculator perhaps go to a website trying to decide if how much we can save by going solar, how would you use the solar calculator for one of your customers?

Joe: An online solar calculator is pretty basic. They’re gonna say enter the price of your electric bill 150 dollars and they’re going to say enter your address so that we can pull up an aerial view of your roof and see roughly what your production capabilities may be based on the roof of the house orientation et cetera et cetera.

And they’re going to say okay you know what you can put enough panels on your roof to cover 150 dollar electric bill and then they’re going to take all of your personal information your address your name your phone number your email all the other things that they asked you for. And you know people think that a lot of these websites are just calculators. They’re going to help you understand whether or not this is right for me.

What they’re really going to do is they’re going to sell your data to a bunch of solar providers in your area, that you know it’s basically a lead and they’re going to sell it to anywhere between you know one and ten other companies.

They’re going to blow up your phone and they’re gonna blow up your email and they’re gonna send somebody over with a bunch of high pressure sales. These are in a lot of cases not solar companies, they’re sales companies that sell solar and your thirty-panel solution for a one hundred fifty dollar bill is such a small part of what the overall strategy is (based on the other variables to maximize your specific needs).

You know it’s like I tell people when they see a solar rep and they have some canned PowerPoint presentation they’re showing you, ask yourself what are the odds of this PowerPoint presentation is exactly what my solution is?

It’s the same thing for everybody, other than the variables of your roof and your electric bill. It may give you an idea and at the risk of being captain obvious I mean go take a look at your roof if most of it faces north or it’s under trees you’re probably not a good candidate for solar.

Solar Installation In Florida
South-facing roof for the best exposure.

If it’s not then if that’s not the case then you probably are. So just be wary that, hey as soon as I click send on this and I see what the solar potential is on my roof the phone’s probably going to ring like five seconds later. Unless you’re on the do not call and it may still ring anyway.

Steve: I mean that’s a real subject of concern right because if you don’t know any better you can go on there you can do the solar calculator it tells you what you want to hear and ultimately you could end up with solar panels installed under a bunch of trees they end up getting installed on the side of the house that doesn’t get enough sun that would all be worst case scenario.

Joe:  I’ve seen a lot of worst case scenarios with solar installations in Florida believe me. Arrays on a north-facing roof may get sun a couple months out of the year just a complete waste of money. Somebody took one over on a consumer that like you said doesn’t know any better.

Steve: Well that’s that’s why we’re here and that’s why it’s important to have somebody who can really go into the details with you. I know well being up here in Maine we’re not getting into solar yet although there’s there are tons of solar farms going in up here. We would want to get all the details make sure that you know it’s going to be a really be a good investment for us.

Joe: So speaking of large solar farms I guess there was like a big abandoned mine in Kentucky that is being converted to a couple hundred-acre solar farm. The utilities are embracing but, they’re of course passing all that investment right onto the consumer. The thing that people just don’t get they’re being on the fence about going solar or not is, if you haven’t gone solar you’re still paying for solar. You’re just paying for their solar not your solar.

And you will never free yourself of that monopoly, that grip, that monthly bill that you get every month, that I have no idea what it is but I have to pay it if I want to keep the lights on and the food cold.

 Steve: Is there anything else, any stories that come across the news desk?

Joe: That’s the most recent thing, I did have a thought the other day, I posted on the Joe Does Solar Facebook page. To try to simplify this, my frustration is that so many customers are turned off because of all the kinds of things that we talked about the sales tactics and the failure and the lack of regulation of solar companies to really put that customer’s interest first.

To disclose all of the potential hidden costs with a solar installation in Orlando.

That being said,  if you wanted to look at it in a very high-level view, like why should I go solar why shouldn’t I go solar.

Imagine this… imagine your utility company sends you an email which says “you’ve been with us for like the last 10 years you’re a great customer and we’ve got a special promotion just for you we’re only offering this to you know one percent of our customers.

Option A is just to continue to pay your electric bill for the next ten to twelve years and as long as you do that with no rate hikes by the way and as long as you do that we will charge you after ten or twelve years basically nothing. Ten, fifteen, or twenty bucks a month just for being on the grid.

Just for being a great customer. That’s the promo. That’s option A. That’s going solar. All you’re doing is reallocating the money that you would be given to the utility company anyway and allocating it into a solar investment, it’s a wash.

Option B is to decline the offer and continue to pay us whatever we tell you to pay us forever with whatever rate hikes we want to lump on you.” Is this difficult?

This is why I’m like why don’t you get it now? Obviously there’s other factors in there and that’s where it takes a guy like me to help weed out. Is this going to have an impact on your insurance, what’s the condition of your roof are there other ways to score with this project by rolling some other things into it like a new water heater or something like that?

If you really want to broad brush the general premise of what going solar is about it’s exactly that it’s about reallocating the funds that you’re you’re giving to another company and giving them to yourself for something you’re eventually going to own and be free of their electric bill.

Joe: For all intents and purposes that’s really what the win is in solar. That’s what they’re scared about. They’re losing money every day. Every time somebody goes solar and when somebody goes solar we all win. They’re fighting against our collective victory. Trying to try to stop the damage that we’re already doing to our planet, fighting against progress.

Steve: I always wonder if this is the road Atlantis went down and they lost. As of right now, it sounds like solar is a no-brainer and whatever toehold industry has, I don’t think they’re gonna keep it.

The people are powerful and we vote with our dollars and voting with our dollars is ultimately the most powerful thing we can do. You can’t stop a tidal wave. So congratulations on surfing that wave or being ahead of it. You know I think helping people to understand the value and benefit is really what this is all about.

Joe:  Thank you for that, I’m here to help. I’m here to help and I’ve said it a hundred times if I was in your situation and I wouldn’t be jumping on the solar train if it’s just not right for you. Be it a more permanent situation or a temporary one, I will tell you to walk. Because I can’t live like that. I don’t know how a lot of these solar guys do it. It’s a shame it’s bad for all of us.

Steve: That’s what we need, we need more of that in the world.  Just good advice coming from the heart.

Joe: Exactly, thank you for the good insight and we’ll talk to you soon.