LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It seems as though anywhere you look you will likely see ads for adding solar power to your home.
It seems like a good idea, sunlight is free, after all, and if it can be used to offset utility costs, all the better. So how does one go about getting solar power for their home?
Lauren Waldrip, executive director of Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, said getting solar for your home is as easy as calling an Arkansas solar installer. The association is a membership-based trade association for energy efficiency, solar power being one of its focus areas.
The installer will need some things before providing a quote, Waldrip said, most importantly a copy of your most recent energy bill. The bill will have a section showing your home’s energy use over time and that will be used to determine just how large a solar system your home can support.
The installation will include not only solar panels but also a net metering electric meter. These are used with auxiliary power systems to provide a home or business owner with the means to earn credit for surplus power created, which is then used to credit your utility account for future power use, Waldrip said.
Waldrip recommended contacting several installers to find the best quote, adding that the association’s website will list Arkansas-based member installers.
As part of the package, the installer will be able to provide options in paying for a solar system, including financing options and any government incentives available to offset the cost, Waldrip said. She also said the installer will know to prepare any mandated paperwork to connect your home’s solar to the power grid.
The USDA REAP program has been popular for financing solar for agriculture producers in the state, Waldrip said.
Tax incentives, unfortunately, are not good news in Arkansas, Waldrip said, the state being one of the five in the nation with no state tax incentive for installing solar power.
“This is not an area where Arkansas is competitive,” she said.
Something to consider when planning for solar is the use of an on-site battery to store power gathered by the solar panels for later use. Called “Solar Plus” systems, the battery is stored at your home or business. It can be expensive, Waldrip left exact cost estimates up to installers, but battery prices continue to drop as this option becomes more popular, she said.
WHAT ABOUT ‘FREE’ SOLAR POWER PACKAGES?
Waldrip was dismissive about the free solar packages advertised often as “clickbait,” she called it.
Often the advertisements for free solar are being used by a company to generate leads, which are then used by out-of-state firms who travel in and out of state selling solar systems, Waldrip said. Prospective buyers should “do some recon” before engaging with one of the free solar advertisements, she said.