Re: query about photovoltaics (solar panels)
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2020 08:36:52 -0700 (PDT)
I can answer one of your questions:

"How did you raise the money to get the panels? If it was from individuals
and not the group as a whole, did those people who were willing and able to
invest in solar get any kind of financial, or other, reward (e.g. a fee

We paid for some of it out of our reserves and some of it we got as a loan
from one of our members. We are paying back the loan with interest,
although getting the interest was not his key motive in lending us the
money - he just wanted to help out.

This worked for us because we've been going for awhile and have been doing
a good job funding our reserves.

Mosaic Commons, Berlin, MA

PS: Hi, Lisa! I remember you from your early involvement in Mosaic. Glad to
see Bay Path coming along.

On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 10:59 AM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> > On Oct 12, 2020, at 10:34 PM, Lisa Wolf <tigerlisa [at]> wrote:
> >
> > I'm Lisa Wolf, a member of Bay State Commons Cohousing, which is in the
> > process of constructing our new home in Malden, MA. The Eco Committee is
> > currently discussing how to make photovoltaics (hereinafter referred to
> as
> > solar panels) happen. We decided to ask other cohousing communities that
> > have installed solar panels for electricity about their experiences and
> > results.
> We installed a solar system to produce electricity for the CH and lighting
> on the grounds in 2015. We didn’t have enough roof space to cover units as
> well. Something to think about as you design your structure. Ours is 3-4
> floors so roof space is reduced.
> The panels have produced at least if not more than they promised and I’m
> sure everyone here would say it was a good investment. We had been looking
> at solar since we built in 2000. Several times we had consultants advise
> us. The verdict was always "solar isn’t ready yet." Mostly because it was
> not worth the high prices. At one point, their cost was inflated because
> Germany was buying everything the US could produce.
> We had members who worked for the Department of Energy and others who were
> pretty much experts on solar. They were able to interview installers,
> evaluate possibilities, and do a financing plan. We had no problems with
> the installation or since. There was some work over a few months to
> calibrate the equipment in the basement. (Converters?)
> It took several people at least a year to put together the proposal, get
> bids, hire consultants, and work out all the kinks including financing. The
> cost of the system was ~$190,000.
> We were 15 years old so we had available funds. We borrowed from Reserves,
> used recent donations from resales that the donor had requested be spend it
> on solar, projected savings from electrical bills, and income from excess
> energy. There were also tax credits and reimbursements for installing solar.
> Figures from 2016—you can skip these if numbers and random letters make
> your eyes swim:
> > We just received our first payment of $19,875.68 for our SRECs (Solar
> Renewable Energy Credits).  It covers the 44 SRECs we generated from
> January through June of this year (One SREC per megawatt-hour).  Our
> payment for the second six months of the year should be similar.  When we
> installed the system last year, SREC prices were scheduled to start
> decreasing next year, but the DC City Council just passed an amendment to
> the Renewable Portfolio Standard that extends the current payments through
> 2023, so we should continue to receive roughly $40,000/year for the next
> seven years, $32,000/year for 2024-2028, $24,000/year for 2029-2032, and
> $4,000/year from 2033 on.  Between the SREC payments and the roughly
> $10,000+/year we're saving on electricity bills, we should pay for the
> system in four years, or six if the cost of the roof replacement is
> included.  Subtract a year from those if you include the tax credit.
> >
> > We've gotten nine monthly electricity bills from Pepco since the system
> was installed.  In the 273 days since 2015/11/06, we've used 40120 kWh
> (147.0/day) at a cost of $-1599.44 ($-5.86/day), and generated 59480 kWh
> (217.9/day), generating 148.3% of what we've used.  For comparison, in the
> 281 days starting 2014/10/30, we used 63280 kWh (225.2/day) at a cost of
> $10120.31 ($36.02/day).  Our average daily consumption has decreased by
> 34.7%.  Our average monthly bill has dropped from $1095.61 to $-178.25.
> (You can see we had experts who could do this analysis.)
> Our roof was scheduled for replacement in 3-5 years so we decided to
> replace it before putting up the panels. The replacement had a 40 year life
> while the initial one had a barely  20 year life and was already requiring
> repairs. Replacing it early was a win-win and we had been saving in the
> reserves for the replacement. By replacing it before the panels were
> installed, we wouldn’t have to remove the panels to replace the roof later,
> and the new roof was in perfect condition for the installation.
> We are actually using ~34% less energy than we had previously been using.
> I assume this is from increased efficiency of producing electricity on
> site, new metering, etc. There were no other changes.
> The various credits and paybacks were considerable. We expected the system
> to pay for itself in 4 years or including the costs of replacing the roof,
> 7 years. The last time I looked at numbers we were ahead of that schedule.
> There were no monthly reductions in condo fees because we were still paying
> ourselves back.
> (Good reserves are worth every penny you put into them.)
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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