Solar Power In Oklahoma Could Offer Utility Cost Relief

Is solar power right for you?

Wednesday, August 23rd 2023, 10:32 pm



Oklahoma used to have some of the lowest utility prices in the country. But over the past two years, residential prices in Oklahoma have gone up about 20 percent, leaving many Oklahomans to look up to the sky for some relief. 

For about 234 days a year, the Oklahoma sun shines, sizzles, and often scorches. For Bob Calvert and his wife it powers their home and car.

“We decided what we could do to minimize our footprint would be smart,” explained Bob.

Going green was his motivation, saving green has been a big bonus.

He's only paying OG&E's base charge for residential customers of $13 per month, nothing for actual electricity. 

On very sunny days, Bob sends power back to the grid and OG&E gives him credit that he can use when it's cloudy or dark.

PSO does the same for their customers.

Policies throughout the state vary, so check with them first before you assume anything.

Solar Equipment In Oklahoma

But beyond the sun, how does solar equipment hold up in other Oklahoma weather? 

“They’re incredibly strong,” said John Coffman with Commercial Solar who installed Bob’s system. “They’re designed for golf ball sized hail.” 

Coffman points to the October 2021 hailstorm. 

“Not one of my clients had damage to their solar panels,” he said. “If it hits on the corner it can crack. Kind of like if you are driving down the road and a rock hits our windshield.”

Manufacturers say the panels will withstand all types of weather.

EightTwenty owner Tony Capucille gave us a tour of his warehouse so we could see the panels and installation close-up. 

“This is rated to withstand 150-mile straight line winds,” Capucille told us, pointing to a mock roof installation.

Insuring Solar Equipment

Many might wonder, what will solar do to my homeowner’s insurance premiums? 

“There’s two or three that will say it's going to raise your rate,” Coffman said. “The vast majority, it does not have any effect on your homeowner’s policy.”          

Some companies will even lower your rate because the panel is protecting your roof. It's best to check with your insurance agent before you make a decision.

Choosing A Company

If solar still seems like a good option for you. How do you pick a legitimate company? 

OG&E says don't be fooled by anyone who comes to your door, they do not partner with any solar company.

“There are good companies out there and typically they are not knocking on your door,” Coffman said.

What about all those internet ads? Experts say there is a real opportunity for people to be scammed. “There is,” agreed Coffman. “And solar is not free.”

“First ask for referrals,” Capucille said. “Do they know the installation crew? Are they local? Start with folks who you actually know will be in your community after they finish the job, versus a kind of gypsy type caravan that's moving through Oklahoma like a storm chaser.”

The Oklahoma Attorney General's consumer protection Unit adds:

  1.  Shop around- compare reviews and prices.
  2. Never sign an agreement with a solar company under pressure
  3. Check the warranty on the installation and the panels.
  4. consider how long you will be in your home.

Added Market Value?

Will adding solar increase my home's value? 

“The more folks do it, the more folks understand, if I’m going to buy a home do I want to buy one with a $200 energy bill or a $14 energy bill,” Capucille said.

There are a number of surveys on this issue. Most say solar will raise the value of your home between 4% and 11%. 

Local Realtor Keith May says he hasn't seen that here… yet.

“I've been asked that a lot in the last couple years,” May said. “I would tell somebody don't put solar in if you think it's going to increase the value of your house, you will probably be disappointed. Will it help a little bit? Maybe. Probably more in the future. It's definitely not a dollar for dollar thing. Do it because you need solar, not because you think your house value is going up.”              

Government Incentives 

What about government incentives?    

After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the federal government will give you a tax credit of 30% of the price of your system.

Bob financed his solar system and after the incentive, his payment is less than his electric bill would have been.

“So it worked out very well for us,” he said.

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