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Let the sunshine in: Washington incentive makes solar more affordable

Now! Solar employees installing solar panels on a home in Pasco. 

TRI-CITIES, Wash. – Washington recently re-enacted the state incentive (SB 5939) to help people go solar.

Solar power is one the cleanest, most reliable forms of renewable energy available, and it can be used in several ways to help power your home or business.

Action News talked to a Richland resident to find out how easy it was for her to tap into the sun to power her home.

"I think it’s a really cool technology that we can harness energy from an unlimited power source that's basically free for our use," Chandra Romel said.

Romel recently made the move to go solar and produce her own energy to run her house.

"Our electric rates are only going to go up in the future, so you also have to think of it as locking in your utility rate for 25 plus years," she said.

With the new solar incentive in Washington, she said it makes going solar affordable for more people.

"A lot of states don't actually have this incentive, so we're very fortunate here in Washington," Romel said.

HOW IT WORKS:

The utility company actually pays her for the power she produces, $0.16 cents per kWh to be exact. The Washington incentive ultimately covers half the cost of her system.

The start year determines the rate. The sooner solar is installed, the higher the benefits.

The utility company will make those payments to her every year until 50 percent of the system is covered, or in 8 years, whichever comes first.

Plus, she utilized the federal tax credit for an extra 30 percent discount.

But to cover the upfront cost, she applied for a solar loan with a credit union.

"Through a solar loan my monthly payment essentially becomes my electric bill," Romel said.

A typical household could pay that off in six years. She thinks of it as an investment in energy because after that Romel said all the power that's produced is yours free.

"Really, economically it makes a lot of sense," she said.

In peak season, Romel's solar panels produce more energy than she can even use.

"When my solar panels are producing, my electric meter actually turns backwards," she said.

This way she builds a credit with the utility company and she can use her credit if she ever needs to.

"At night or in the winter when the sun doesn't shine, as long I can pull from that credit and that's what we call net metering,” she explained.

The best part of going solar Romel said is that sun produces an abundance of energy, way more than we can possibly need.

To learn more about the Washington state incentive and the federal tax credit to help you go solar, visit www.solarwa.org.



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