Michael Allen

    Solar power was the fastest-growing source of energy worldwide in 2017—and plenty of area homes and businesses will add to the number of solar users in 2018, thanks to incentives from utilities and the government.

    Residential solar systems have long presented a cost-benefit question for potential users. While they reduce or eliminate electric bills by contributing energy to local utilities, the systems require an upfront investment in technology and labor. Solar-curious Minnesotans/Wisconsinites once struggled to make the numbers add up. But in the last few years, with the price of solar technology dropping, the state government and local utilities decided to do more to encourage conversion to the renewable resource. Sweetening the rewards for going solar has an upside, even for utilities who are in the business of selling power. The more homes generating solar power, the less strain on aging electric grids.

    Most customers of the local grid looking for solar affordability will be in for a pleasant surprise when they see what a big impact this year’s programs will have on installation costs. The Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards program opened for applications on Jan. 8. Each year the program funds a limited number of Xcel Energy as they go solar. Last year, the program was fully allocated by the end of summer. There are also national programs to help households get up and running with solar. The 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) is available for a variety of green energy installations, including solar, through December 2019.

    Dig a little deeper and solar shows its value even more. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California showed that across the board, buyers were willing to pay $15,000 extra for a home with an average-sized solar panel system. And homes or businesses that endure power outages during storms won’t have that same vulnerability with solar, which provides stability the aging electric grid can’t match. Some systems actually make money, selling more energy to the grid than the household consumes. And of course, it’s always a bonus to have bragging rights at becoming one of the first on the block to go solar.

    Becoming part of the solar wave is also simpler than ever before. A homeowner’s first step is a call to a locally owned installer, like All Energy Solar for a free consultation to determine if a property is a good candidate for a solar system. All Energy Solar takes the lead on completing paperwork and meeting the deadlines for the rewards programs and tax credits; as well as helping structure financing, putting a further dent in any upfront costs. No wonder so many Minnesotans/Wisconsinites are finally warming up to solar power, taking control to own their own source of energy and freeing themselves from their monthly electric bill.

About the author

    Michael Allen is CEO of All Energy Solar. Michael began his career and passion for renewable energy as a sophmore in college. After graduating from UW Wisconsin Madison with a degree in Economics and Business Management he studied european solar and wind markets before becoming a solar consultant designing solar systems in Northern California. While personally experiencing the boom in the California solar market he also managed relationships across the western US for an international Solar Manufacturer gaining intimate knowledge and experience from some of the industry’s brightest professionals. In 2008 he joined a National Solar company as an executive installing thousands of solar systems across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. As a NABCEP certified PV installer he enjoys using his experience designing and building reliable long lasting energy systems. When he has free time he enjoys fishing, biking, and cooking, and of course cheering on his beloved Wisconsin Badgers.