Every few years, I have written on Solar Power for homes and wondered, “When will it be cost effective to do it?” Since Nevada has a law which requires the state to be 50% renewable energy by 2030, I figured that perhaps prices had come down enough to make it affordable.
I kept seeing an ad on Face Book saying, “NV Energy Customers Are Now Getting a Tesla Powerwall and Battery AND Solar Panels for No Cost!” So, I contacted that company and asked for a free home presentation.
A couple of things jumped out at me right away. The first was that the monthly cost for my home looked very affordable. In fact, it would end up being about a breakeven to what I was currently paying NV Energy. So, I thought to myself, “Maybe it is time to solarize my home.” Then I noticed the other “thing” which was, the price did NOT include the Tesla Powerwall.
When I pointed that out, oh boy, then the troubles began. I had to give all kinds of personal information and then was run through a credit check. Once that was approved, I was presented with a few battery options, but I insisted on the one which was advertised, the Tesla Powerwall. It turns out that the Tesla battery unit was more expensive than the Solar Panels. It bumped the monthly cost up for the total promised package, per that Social Media ad, to twice what I currently pay NV Energy without Solar! That does NOT match the promise in the ad!! My nose started twitching and the phrase “bait n switch” starting swimming around in my head.
Apparently, the Solar Panels are just “leased” to you, but you must purchase the Battery backup system if you want it. The Solar Panel lease runs for 25 years and then you have the option of paying $200 to “purchase” them. But watch out! It turns out that the useful life of those Solar Panels runs about 25 years. So, in all likelihood, you would not choose to purchase the used-up ones, but instead, renew your lease by having all brand-new ones installed. That amounts to a permanent monthly cost for having Solar Panels that lasts for as long as you have Solar Panels. The Tesla Battery life indicates 5-6 years before changing the battery. So, pay twice the cost of Solar Panels for the battery, and have to replace the battery up to possibly 4 different times during the useful life of the Solar Panels. Yuck!
Another problem arose while we sat there mulling all this over. What happens if we wanted to sell our house some day? You got it. The buyer would have to take over the lease on the Solar Panels. Maybe not such a positive point?
Conclusion. The 25-year lease cost to solarize our house would be about $11,500 (8 panels). The 25-year cost for the Tesla Powerwall (figure replace 4 times) would be $13,000 for the first one (net of a $3,000 rebate, and $10,000 for the 4 battery replacements, totaling $43,000! Ouch! If you just wanted to put solar panels on your home and still be without power when NV Energy decides to shut off power, then the time might be now to consider it. For me, I was too offended by the “bait n switch” in the social media ad, so I said, “No thankyou. It’s not price effective yet.”
Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 882-4459. On the web at BullisAndCo.com Also on Facebook.