Speakers weigh the financial side of photo voltaic cells | SteamboatToday.com

Speakers weigh the financial side of photo voltaic cells

— Sam Jones of All Season Financial Advisors told an audience of 63 people at Moots Cycles on Steamboat's west side Tuesday night that his investment in solar energy really began to pay off at his home in rural Steamboat when his wife purchased a hybrid plug-in car.

"That accelerated my pay-back time by half," Jones said. "It's normally 12 to 14 years. Remember, you're off-loading gasoline (costs). The home run here is to plug in a car."

He was speaking during the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's Solar Talking Green event at Moots Cycles.

Jones said he has solar panels for heating domestic hot water on his roof, but in terms of realizing a return on his investment, he may not live to see that date. That is primarily because it is a thermal system as opposed to photovoltaic panels generating electricit.

"Our solar thermal project I would have to say, that was probably a bad investment," Jones said.

A better opportunity, he said, has been the photovoltaic panels he purchased in the Clean Energy Collective's (CEC's)community solar array in Craig, which is operated in cooperation with Yampa Valley Electric.

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But before he invested in the CEC panels, Jones saved energy the old fashioned way.

"Don't forget about the efficiency of upgrading your old furnace," he said. "We're on propane so this is a huge incentive. We've (saved) 25 percent by upgrading," to a new boiler.

Purchasers of solar panels at the CEC array in Craig see a credit on their bills from Yampa Valley Electric Association. The electrical cooperative keeps track of how much power the solar panels generate each month.

Kevin Morse, CEC's director of commercial sales reminded his audience that purchasing solar panels at the array isn't just for homeowners.

"If you are renting, but paying the electric bills, you can still have it credited to the bill," he said. "Bill-credit can be transferred to any meter on the utility's network. And panels can be sold to another owner."

Matt Piva co-owner of Brightside Solar said he favors mounting solar arrays on ground mounts for his company's residential customers. Piva believes that energy security, the ability through technological advances to have a secure power supply, even when the local utility goes down, is one of the biggest advantages of a home solar array.

Tuesday's presentation was hosted by Moots Cycles with beverages supplied by Butcherknife Brewing. Both companies have installed significant solar arrays on their buildings.

Yampa Valley Bank's Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Ryan Van Ness said his bank felt fortunate to have helped Butcherknife finance its solar array and is open to helping more local businesses help with similar endeavors.

Susan Holland of Emerald Mountain Energy said Moots was her first commercial account and she is proud to have worked with local businesses like Butcherknife and Elkstone Farm, as well as nonprofits like Yampatika and taxing entities like the Bud Werner Memorial Library who have shown a commitment to alternative energy.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1