Rooftop solar a solid investment

Low guaranteed interest (GIC) rates caused us to rethink our long term financial plans when rates dropped to below two per cent. Our TFSA’s were already at maximum. Interest from GICs are taxable plus inflation also takes its toll. We were losing money. The decision was made to invest in a rooftop solar array. We went into this blindly because there were no statistics supporting solar as a financial investment in the Deep Bay (Bowser) area.

Our home has a sloping, southwest-facing roof. However, there are very tall cedars and firs from adjacent properties that can shade the roof in the fall/winter/spring seasons. Viridian Energy Co-operative did a site analysis that looked promising. We were sufficiently satisfied with their analysis and decided to invest $17,000 into the installation of the system of 22 panels in January 2015.

Our roof was new having converted to steel several years prior after the shingles pre-maturely failed in a storm. Modern solar panels are large and lightweight allowing special tracks that clamp onto the metal roof without drilling holes through the roofing material.

We now have two years of statistics, and our investment has paid off. As BC Hydro rates continue to rise, returns are expected to also rise. We produce approximately 28 per cent of the power we use annually (approximately 23,000Kwh or 23MWh). The solar provides 6.2MWh each year. The two-tier BC Hydro rates add to the savings. Bottom line, that is roughly $800 tax free savings/year or approximately 4.7 per cent returns on investment that is tax-free. In addition, we drive a fully electric car (2013 Nissan Leaf) over 8,400km / year charged at home 98 per cent of the time. Effectively we drive for free.

We are very happy with our investments of the solar array as well as an all electric car (now with over 30,000km). Both are effectively maintenance free. The car has only required replacement of windshield wipers and tire rotation. There has been no detectible decline in range.

I hope this information helps others.

Dianne Eddy