Do I receive credit or payment for the excess electricity produced by my system?

Yes. In a program known as "Net Metering" the electric company functions as an energy bank. Recently the deal has sweetened for energy producers like you. El Paso Electric is now part of the New Mexico REC program. This means you are paid a bonus of $0.02 for EVERY kilowatt-houryour system produces, even the electricty you use. This puts you in the buy low sell high energy business, with only a small investment on your part.

Does this credit stay the same?

Yes and no. It stays the same for clients who are in the program. For example if you sign up for a system before the end of December you will enter the program at the current rate and continue to receive the $0.04 for every kilowatt-hour your system produces. Those who wait until January 1, 2014 to sign up will receive $0.02 per kilowatt-hour. So once you enter the program, you retain your incentive rate for the duration. Those not in the program enter at the the current rate. The current rate is $0.04 until December 31, 2013. Beginning January 1, 2014 the rate drops to $0.02.

Are my electric rates going up?

Yes. In 2010 El Paso Electric introduced a new rate program. This new program is likely to increase your electric bill substantially in the summer air-conditioning season. Between May and October your rate increases from $0.1179 to $$0.13599 once you consume more than 600 kWh in a billing period.

Could I receive a check from the electric company if I produce more electricity than I use?

Yes. Because El Paso Electric participates in the New Mexico REC Program, you could be receiving a check instead of a bill every month. For small positive balances El Paso Electric can show a balance forward on next month's bill. But when the balance exceeds $30, the account will be trued-up and you'll receive a check.

Would my system continue to power my home even if the power is out in my area?

That depends on the type of system we install for you. If you select our Starshine system with no battery backup or other continuous source of power, then your solar panels will not be able to generate electricity to power your home. But if you choose our Lighthouse or Independence systems, batteries will keep the electricity flowing with or without grid power.

I dont' think my homeowners association will let me install solar panels!

No need to worry about that. The New Mexico Solar Rights Act renders void and unenforcable most HOA rules prohibiting the installation of solar panels. Contact our office and we will ge glad to provide more detail.

How do you determine what size system I would need?

This depends on your objective, but everything revolves around your electric bill. First we take a look at your bill to see how much electricity you are using each month. Then a system is sized according to your objective. Some clients wish to eliminate their electric bill completely, while others just want it reduced by half or some other amount. Here in New Mexico it is easy to determine just how much electricity a PV system will generate so rest assured that you'll get a system that is sized properly to meet your needs.

I've heard that Solar energy systems are very expensive?

Not long ago that was true, but not anymore. There are many important reasons for this change. Systems have become more efficient and prices have fallen. Federal and State government incentives are slashing the total cost to you by 40%. In addition El Paso Electric, in its efforts to meet state and federal requirements, is purchasing every watt your photovoltaic system generates at a higher price than they sell it. Your savings are increased if you finance the system, because not only do you replace your electric bill with a fixed monthly payment, but your payments could be tax deductible. A properly sized system, financed at today's low rates, could make you cash-posititive from the first day you starte generating electricity.

Do I need to produce 100% of the electricity I use to get my electric bill to zero?

Not any more! Because of El Paso Electric's participation in the New Mexico REC program, you only need to produce about one half of the electricity that you consume to zero the usage part of your electric bill. So you only need generate three quarters or your electricity, But hurry because while the REC program and the rate on the day you join is guaranteed until December 31, 2020, the entry rates are subject to change and El Paso Electric prefers to reduce the rates. Lock in your savings before the rates change again.

What government incentives are available and how do they work?

There are two government incentives that apply to all residential photovoltaic (solar electricity) systems. The 30% Federal tax credit is a true tax credit, not a deduction, that you apply to the current year's tax payment. If you don't use the entire credit in the first year, it carries forward to future tax years until it is exhausted. The 10% State tax credit works the same way but applies to your state income taxes. Together the two incentives slash the cost of your system by 40%.

What about strong winds and hail?

Your panels are securely attached to your roof using a UL listed racking system engineered expressly for this purpose. They can withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour, so there is no need to worry about them being damaged by high winds.

The solar panels are tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to be resistant to hail damage.

What kind of impact would my system have on the environment?

A moderate 3 kW (kilowatt) system powering your home eliminates 3 tons of carbon dioxide from polluting our atmosphere each year. Achieving the same positive impact on the environment would require you to drive your car 7,300 fewer miles or plant a half-acre of trees each year.

Will my property resale value increase?

There are several studies clearly demonstrating that adding a photovoltaic system (solar electricity) to your home does increase its value. One study proved that every dollar saved, or generated, resulted in $10-$20 dollar increase in sales value. Other estimates are that the system retains from 50% to 70% of its original cost at the time of resale. This is a much higher ratio than for most home improvements. In 2012 a new tool was made available to appraisers, making proper valuation of your PV system easier and more accurate.

How long does it take to recover the energy used to manufacture the solar panels?

The Energy Pay-Back Time (EPBT) of a solar panel is generally calculated to be 2-2.5 years. However because of the significantly higher insolation (solar radiation) we receive here in Las Cruces, our EPBT is only about a year! Keep in mind this is not the financial payback time of a system that is typically a very fast 7.5 years. Let the sun shine in!

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