WINTER HARBOR — Roger and Pearl Barto wanted to install solar panels to reduce their electric consumption for years, but waited until the price was right — which they decided was now.
“I had an estimate done a few years ago and it was $28,000,” said Roger Barto, a former town manager. “I had it done in November and it was $16,000.”
For that amount John Dandy of Dandy Solar Electric in Gouldsboro in December attached eighteen 230-watt panels on the Bartos’ garage roof.
The cost included installation, which took about one week.
In addition, the Bartos will receive a 30 percent federal tax credit that can be taken over one to two years.
Dandy has been selling and installing PV systems for 30 years and said the photovoltaic (PV) panels were $8 per watt a year ago. Now they cost $4 per watt.
One reason prices have dropped, he said, is that the government in China is subsidizing the manufacture of PV cells and modules.
Jonathan Silver, executive director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, said in Solar Industry magazine in October 2011: “The Chinese government has already committed more than $30 billion to several large manufacturers, in addition to providing other incentives.”
The system Dandy installed at the Bartos’ on Sargent Drive generated 87 kilowatt hours between the time it was activated on Dec. 22 by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and Jan. 3.
He said the design model he used estimated 162 kilowatt hours would be generated in the month of December or January.
If electric prices remain the same, the system is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years, Dandy said.
He said the garage was the optimum location because it is accessible from the ground, had the right amount of square footage and faces south.
Barto said the question for him is simple, saving money, and conservation.
“Anything we can do to get away from fuel oil would be a great help,” he said.
Photovoltaic System (PV)
A photovoltaic system uses solar panels assembled in a PV array to convert sunlight into electricity. The electricity generated can be stored, used directly or fed into a large electricity grid. The excess solar power from a grid-tie system is fed into utility lines and appears as a credit on the owner’s electric bill. A shortfall in solar power is made up with utility company power. Owners are billed for the difference between what they use from the power company and what solar energy they generate.