Rooftop solar for the masses

Long-time solar power supporters share much in common with Seattle Seahawks fans, who patiently waited since 1976 to enjoy their recent moment in the sun. Now that it has arrived, the fan base has exploded.

In regards to solar energy, there’s never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon!

In our last blog about solar, we listed how people evaluate their options. But who, exactly, are these new fans? Let’s start with the fact that the number of homeowners with solar would completely fill Seattle’s professional football stadium five times over (360,000+, with 31,000 new fans added in Q3 2013 alone).

Who is filling those seats? If you think it’s the equivalent of NFL’s die-hard fans (dyed-in-the-wool environmentalists) or corporate luxury suite owners (wealthy homeowners), a recent trend in solar adoption may surprise you:

A study by the Center for American Progress found that solar installations in 3 leading solar states  (CA, AZ and NJ) were overwhelmingly occurring in middle-class neighborhoods with median incomes ranging from $40,000 – $90,000.  In addition, the fastest growing segment of households installing solar from 2011-2012 had median income ranges between $30,000-50,000.

This is one of many encouraging signs that residential solar has moved beyond the fringe.

Who’s winning the renewable resource popularity contest?

Unofficially, we’d be surprised if solar didn’t win in a landslide (ahem, we still love all the candidates). If you own a home and get plenty of unobstructed sun, solar is probably the easiest renewable energy source to access and utilize to generate electricity for your home. Equipment prices and installation costs continue to fall, and solar is cost competitive in some states even without rebates and incentives.

The availability of solar financing also has been a major force in lowering the barrier to going solar. The ability to lease a system has provided peace of mind to customers who only want to pay for the power from a solar system and not worry about system maintenance or a big upfront cost.

All these developments have served to make solar the most popular kid in renewable school – or at least that’s what we think. We’d love to hear from you to confirm our suspicions!

Note: Green Mountain Energy is not a johnny-come-lately in support of residential solar. Whereas some electric companies see rooftop solar as a threat, we’ve embraced the idea that a lot of our customers will buy less grid electricity from us because they’re getting power production from their solar panels. That’s why we’re offering a buy-back program specifically for rooftop solar owners in Texas.

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