Going Solar, Part Five: Panels on!

Going Solar, Part Five: Panels on!

Nearing the finish line.

Thursday-Friday, December 3-4, 2020, workers installed 24 solar panels on my roof, and associated electronics such as an inverter in my garage and circuit breakers on the outside wall. I wish I had asked them to remove two old unused satellite dishes, one of which may cast a small shadow on the panels. Thought of it too late. (Update: I’ve removed the dishes and production increased by at least 1%.)

East-facing panels. Photo provided by contractor … crops out sat dishes

Not done yet!

The system may be completely installed but it still has to be inspected and approved by the local jurisdiction and then the utility company, before it can be turned on.

County inspection

Two days after installation, the county inspector stopped by to take a quick look, particularly at the electrics on the ground. I’m not sure he was concerned at all about the actual panels. Anyway, he approved, so two things were set in motion: the utility company was notified and the credit union loaning the money sent a contract to be signed, with a first payment due in about 30 days.

Utility inspection/meter installation

The next day I received an email from the utility with a form for me to sign. They promised to be out to inspect and install a new meter (if needed) within about 20 working days. Eight working days later I got an email saying my “application” was approved and they would send someone to my location (I need not be present) within 10 working days. With Xmas and NYE in between, that will be about January 6, 2021. About 131 days between formally starting the process and turning on the system, if all goes well.

My biggest mistake

Looking back, the only avoidable delay might have been while I waited patiently for HOA approval. I didn’t realize that, according to the rules of the HOA, if 30 days go by after I submit a request, and they have not gotten back to me, I can consider my request as approved. Instead I waited patiently for more than 45 days before I started playing hardball with the HOA to get approval. I’m glad they finally provided a letter of approval, but I should have asked the solar contractor to proceed after 30 days passed, as if the HOA had granted approval.

Do your part

I cannot overemphasize that if you have questions or concerns, deal with them before you sign the pertinent contracts. Don’t expect much flexibility or responsiveness once they have the signed papers in hand. Fortunately, I don’t have any major gripes so far. On the other hand, I have had some minor questions and requests, and I hoped the original sale rep would have continued to be my advocate. I haven’t heard much from him since I signed the sales contract. Others in the office have been more attentive, and things have gone about as smoothly as one might hope for. I did make a point of staying on top of things and in communication with whoever would talk to me.

Next post will hopefully be after the system is “energized” and I can start seeing results.

Going Solar, Part 6: Results!

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