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How Solar Protects Against Electricity Rate Hikes

Sick of your Vermont utility bills going up and up? Read on to see how solar could be your on red barn

You turn off the lights. You sweat out some summer nights. You unplug your chargers. But no matter what you do, it feels like the electricity bill always comes in as a big surprise. Sure, there are some normal fluctuations in your energy needs, but sometimes your bill is higher simply because of a rate hike.

“We hear a lot of frustration over rate hikes,” says Paul Lesure, President of Green Mountain Solar. “People just feel like they’re at the whim of the electric company. And it’s not like you get to pick what utility serves your area.”

So with rates going up—and historically, they don’t go back down—are you out of options? That’s where solar comes in.

Do Solar Panels Really Save You Money?

Short answer: Yes, solar saves you money. With solar, you’re essentially locking in your monthly electric rate, either by paying for it upfront or by locking in one monthly payment with our financing partner, VSECU, a division of New England Federal Credit Union. Unlike your electric bill, this rate won’t fluctuate with the seasons or from rate hikes. Meanwhile, you’re not paying for electricity from the grid because of the energy your solar panels produce.

Best of all, you still have the convenience of staying grid-tied, thanks to net metering. In a nutshell, the utility will credit you for any extra power your panels produce. That credit will then offset your electricity bill for times when your panels aren’t producing. For the full low down on how this works, check out our post on net metering.

Is Solar Cheaper than Electricity?

Yes, ultimately you’ll spend less if you go solar than if you just stick with the utility. Keep in mind it’s a long-term strategy. VSECU, a division of New England Federal Credit Union aims to keep payments around the same cost as your current electric bill. They can come in a little higher, but in the long run, you’ll still come out ahead. For starters, that loan payment may be higher than your electric bill today, but what about after the next rate hike?

Say there’s a rate hike and your $100 electric bill goes up to $115—not because you’re using more electricity, but simply because the cost of electricity has gone up. If your loan payment comes in at $110, yes, your loan starts out higher than your electric bill, but you’re protected against future rate hikes. And then you’re set with free electricity once your loan is paid off.

Is Solar Worth It?

Take your average monthly electric bill and multiply it by 12 to get your average cost for the year. Then multiply that by at least 25 years (but maybe even 30-35 years), which is the minimum lifespan of a solar system. That’s how much you’d spend if you don’t go solar (assuming rates stay the same… which won’t be the case).

Then compare that cost to your solar investment. “The numbers work,” says Paul. “You’ll quickly see that solar is a smart investment.”

—Julia Westbrook

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