For answers to questions about solar energy benefits and installation, we went straight to the local experts at Green Street Solar

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Green Street Solar

With fossil fuel costs rising higher than ever and with no end in sight, people all over are getting serious about alternative energy sources. Of these alternatives, perhaps none engenders more curiosity and interest than solar (also known as photovoltaic) energy. In order to “shed some light” on the issue, so to speak, Coastal Style reached out to a local expert, who sat down with us to answer the most frequently asked questions on the subject.

Gina Drago is a solar energy consultant for Green Street Solar, which has been providing solar energy solutions to residential clients and small businesses in Delaware and Maryland since 2007. In addition to having an on-staff BPI-certified energy auditor, Green Street Solar is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and the Solar Electric Power Association.

Why is solar energy better for the planet than conventional methods?
From a practical standpoint, the sun is a free and inexhaustible resource, and solar energy harnesses the power of the sun. It is non-polluting, has no moving parts that could break down, requires little maintenance, no supervision and has a warranty life of 25-30 years.

How much money is my family likely to save in energy costs?
Most families save around $3,000 per year between energy savings and Solar Renewable Energy Credit proceeds, also referred to as SRECs.

What the heck is an “SREC”?
An SREC is a “Solar Renewable Energy Certificate,” which is a tradable certificate that represents the clean-energy benefits of electricity generated from your solar electric system. Depending upon your state of residence, SRECs may be sold through brokers and can be worth hundreds of dollars a month to you and your family.

Does every home and/or small business qualify for solar electric?
Yes, as long as its solar array is positioned on a south-, southeast- or southwest-facing roof or has sufficient acreage for a ground-based array.

How does the process work?
A solar assessment is conducted to properly size a solar electric system, followed by customer agreement and grant application. It concludes with the permit, installations, inspections and interconnection of system.

How much is this process likely to cost me to install?
Installed systems usually start at around $10,000. Depending on what size system is installed, the average home will see a system-payback time of 3-7 years.

How long does the installation process take?
Believe it or not, the actual system install ranges from one to three days. More time is allotted for design of system, ordering permits and materials, grant paperwork,
inspections and interconnections.

Does “going solar” necessarily mean uglifying my house and neighborhood?
It depends on your idea of ugly. Most solar arrays blend seamlessly with roofing, especially our sleek, thin, black solar panels. You could also opt for ground arrays, solar shingles or thin-film photovoltaic laminates, which seamlessly integrate with a standing seam metal roof.

What guarantee do I have that this process will do what it claims to do?

Easy, ask any of our clients! We can supply you with references. While all of our systems provide estimates, these estimates are calculated by reliable sources such as National Renewable Energy Laboratories, or NREL. A calculation will be made based on your own system size, array azimuth and angle, location and current energy prices.

Will I have to pay for everything upfront?
That’s your choice. The total cost may also be financed for one year interest-free, allowing ample time to realize your tax credit and state grant.

Green Street Solar
, 800-834-5196

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