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Solar Financing : Feed-In Tariffs (FIT)

Looking for another way to monazite your solar energy system, take a look at a program being adopted all over the world, including some states in the US, called FIT (Feed-In Tariffs). FIT is essentially a program whereby the government or utility running the program (the California Public Utilities Commission in California for example) guarantees the purchase of excess energy generated by the, in this case, solar panels tied into the grid. The result is people with solar energy systems, generating more power than they use, can sell back this excess power to offset their investment, or in some cases, to earn money from the solar power system. For the purpose of this article, I'll focus on the details pertaining to these types of programs in the United States, for more specific information on your country; refer to the Wikipedia entry for FITs.

First off, one caveat is that the program is only open to those not currently participating in net metering. Net metering, as you may know, is the program where you are tied into your local utility's grid and you are compensated for any energy you contribute back to the grid in the form of a reduction on your bill, however, once your bill is reduced to $0, you are not compensated any further. What FITs offer, by contrast, is that for those who are consistently producing more energy than they use, they will actually be paid each month for the energy generated. This rate varies greatly depending on the time of day and time of year the energy is produced and a slew of other factors. In California, for example, the rate ranges from 5 cents per kilowatt hour to as much as 30 on a hot summer day when electricity is particularly expensive. The purchase of your excess solar power is guaranteed, so you don't have to continually negotiate the sale as you would need to with SRECs.

For a real world example for the amount of money you could generate, let's suppose you calculate your energy consumption at around 45kWh/day and you purchase a 2000kWh/month system. This will leave you with an excess of around 1350 kWh/month, so at an average selling rate of 12 cents/kWh, that's $162/month. That's not too shabby considering that you'll be covering your own energy consumption and still be eligible for many other government subsidies and could still qualify for the generation and sale of SRECs.

For more info on FITs in your area, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed-in_tariff

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