Soon, families will start to move into their new homes in a subdivision of New Berlin, a place that makes #solar panels mandatory. Yes, you’ve read it right: not allowed or encouraged, but mandatory.
This was a dream of #Matt Neumann, the CEO of Neumann Cos. from Pewaukee. The company has worked intensely over the past year on the Red Fox Crossing project, an energy project known as “net zero”. The project contains 34 homes and is located at the intersection of West Grange Avenue and South Sunnyslope Road. The idea and the way it was implemented are very interesting, but it would not have been possible without lower cost #solar panels.
This is the first project of its kind, and it was the dream of Matt Neumann ever since he first founded SunVest Solar Inc. back in 2009. Since 2009, Neumann has been experimenting with various technologies and approaches in an effort to create the first net zero home. And now, the effort and hard work has paid off. The 34 homes are ready for their new tenants – and all of them are using solar power.
According to Matt Neumann, one of the major problems was affordability. Back in 2009 or 2010, solar panels cost as much as $75,000 for every house. Of course, this was a budget that almost no one was willing to pay. Nowadays, solar panels can be purchased and installed for as little as $12,000 (sometimes going up to $15,000, depending on capacity). This is nearly one sixth of the price however, which means a lot of money saved by the developers and the tenants, who still need to cover the costs over time.
Because of the solar panels, tenants will pay roughly $50 more on their mortgage every month. This is not too bad. However, they save approximately $100 every month on energy. In other words, due to the solar panels and to the cheap energy that they produce, homeowners will actually save $50 every month, according to Neumann.
Even though the price of solar panels has significantly diminished over the last few years, people still consider them to be relatively expensive items. This is because, according to Neumann, many remember the times when solar panels were very expensive. If one does the math today, he or she will quickly come to the conclusion that solar panels actually make a lot of sense most of the time. It is really worth it and people are really saving money. This is what the net zero project aims to show the world; that you can have solar panels and save money.
Businesses and developers have started to see the benefits of solar power and solar panels. Over the years, solar projects have started to appear all across the state. Homeowners have also become more interested after calculating the economics and seeing that there are significant cost savings over the long term. And this is not all.
Considering the fact that there are also many incentives being offered at the federal and at the state level as well, adding solar panels to your roof may become quite an affordable and profitable thing to do. And it’s not just for regular folks. Last fall, Ryan Kromholz and Manion SC – which is a law firm from Brookfield – installed 188 solar panels on the roof of their building. The panels were installed with the help of Kettle View Renewable Energy LLC and Werner Electric Supply Co.
While the companies did not want to discuss how much the electric panels cost or the specifics of the project, sources claim that the beneficiary saves around 40% on their monthly electricity bill. At this rate, it looks like the cost of the solar panels and the installation will be covered in just 4 years – or even less.
Several companies in the main business park of Brookfield have installed solar panels already, including RKM, CBRE|ESI and Components Co. Also, two more companies are seriously considering installing solar panels in the near future. In other words, it looks like more and more businesses are compelled by the long term savings to install panels and use solar power to their advantage. Covering all the costs in less than four years is definitely a very attractive chance. Because you need to realize that even though there are environmental considerations to installing solar panels, these companies have installed them for financial reasons.
And homeowners in Wisconsin will be happy to learn that they can get $2,000 for installing solar panels. Businesses can receive $4,000 for the same reason. How? The Focus on Energy program offers grants for people and companies that implement solar installations. And remember, there is a solar tax credit at the federal level which allows individuals and businesses to deduct 30% of the solar panel costs from the federal taxes they pay. For example, new homeowners in the Red Fox Crossing project can get both the $2,000 grant and the 30% tax deduction.
The Red Fox Crossing already has seen approximately a dozen houses sold. These homes are between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet and their average price is from $500000 to $650000. This is not cheap, but for a house this size and with solar panels to help its owner save some money every month, it is very well worth it.
According to Neumann, most of the new homeowners were more concerned that the solar panels wouldn’t look good on their homes. After all, they are paying a small fortune to buy a house; they want it to look great. However, they need to remember that solar panels are not only saving them money, but contributing to a cleaner Earth. This should be enough reason to put up with a minor aesthetical issue on one’s roof – if one would even consider it as such. In any case, the solar panels will be placed on the back and on the sides of homes, where they will be less visible.
At the time of writing, Neumann is still trying to see how the solar markets respond to his Red Fox Crossing project. Even though he is still looking to learn from what his customers have to say, the solar panel project is already a success. Follow solar news to see what ends up happening!