Friday, June 14, 2024

JEA shines a lightweight for folks contemplating solar energy


David Byers stands in entrance of the photo voltaic panels on the roof of his Springfield dwelling, pleased that he acquired them final yr.

But whilst his JEA invoice went from a median of $200 a month to about $70, he admits that the issues he confronted as a Tampa firm put in it overshadowed the intense spots. end result that he noticed now.

The excellent news: He can repay the $15,000 set up price very quickly with the cash he saves on his month-to-month payments. But his photo voltaic panel firm was on the verge of chapter whereas his set up was going down, and he could not convey crews to his home typically to put in the rooftop panels.

“The primary downside is that the contractor turned out to not be very dependable,” Byers mentioned. “So they completed the job, but it surely took quite a lot of cellphone calls and a very long time earlier than it was obtainable.”

JEA now has a program that may assist folks like Byers keep away from issues with regards to selecting a photo voltaic panel firm and getting the job executed proper. The weeklong Solar Concierge program makes JEA the “trusted advisor” for folks focused on rooftop photo voltaic programs, mentioned Philip Williams, JEA buyer program supervisor.

“We can present assets to clients primarily based on a vetted contractor, a market the place they will get viable bids from vetted contractors,” mentioned Williams, who joined Byers at his dwelling in Thursday. “And there are photo voltaic advisors at JEA, who know the applications, learn about return on investments, and particularly give the client quite a lot of assets in order that they have an informed supply to information them to their decision-making.”

Solar panels are located on both sides of the roof of David Byers' home in Springfield.  |  Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Today
Solar panels are situated on each side of the roof of David Byers’ dwelling in Springfield. | Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Today

Solar energy is gaining a robust foothold within the Jacksonville space. More than 6,000 clients of JEA’s Jacksonville/St. It was adopted by the Johns County service space to serve their houses and companies.

That’s a 150% improve over the previous three years, Williams mentioned. Anticipating the continued recognition of photo voltaic cells within the Sunshine State, together with photo voltaic battery storage installations, JEA launched the Solar Concierge Program on April 15.

No one has joined this system but, however there have been quite a lot of questions to this point, Williams mentioned.

“We have a objective of implementing renewables in our portfolio, so we perceive from an trade perspective,” mentioned Williams. “We’re additionally transferring towards renewable power sources. So we need to make certain clients are making the most effective determination, as a result of JEA is making the most effective determination. We’re centered on the group, owned by the group, so we need to take them on our journey as nicely.”

With recognition comes some issues, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody of Jacksonville mentioned not too long ago.

Speaking a month in the past at a information convention with the Better Business Bureau, he introduced a brand new guideline – Scams at a Glance: The Dark Side of Solar – to assist customers safely navigate photo voltaic investments. The new useful resource comes months after he filed authorized actions towards three photo voltaic corporations for misleading and unfair commerce practices.

“Home photo voltaic power programs can current utility financial savings alternatives,” Moody mentioned. “But dangerous actors can use the lure of massive financial savings to get large funds with no intention of finishing the photo voltaic set up course of. Solar scams price customers 1000’s of {dollars} in Florida.”

Moody’s recommendation consists of ensuring potential clients get quotes from a number of respected photo voltaic corporations, then evaluating them. Be cautious of corporations that ask for big funds or deposits, and keep in mind that not all clients might qualify for utility rebates or incentives.

Williams is aware of the problems folks have earlier than, throughout or after set up. That consists of shady contractors, in addition to staff who injury roofs when putting in panels and wiring. There could also be different points with owners insurance coverage masking the panels, so the brand new program will inform folks of these points and how one can keep away from them.

“We’re seeing a rise in insurance coverage corporations with extra necessities from common clients who’ve photo voltaic on their houses,” Williams mentioned. “That’s why we need to make certain we’re placing the data on the forefront of the choice so clients aren’t stunned by it on the again finish.”

Byers mentioned he hasn’t had points with roof injury, however he has heard of different photo voltaic panel house owners having injury. He acquired a 30% authorities tax refund on his photo voltaic system, which lowered its price as he paid it ahead. He mentioned he might need used the JEA Solar Concierge program if it was final yr.

“JEA will do quite a lot of background work that we’re most likely not outfitted to do,” Byers mentioned. “Primarily we have a look at on-line opinions, however JEA can go deeper to verify the contractor is dependable, solutions cellphone calls and might do the job proper.”

JEA’s new program affords a Marketplace Calculator software to assist examine set up prices from licensed photo voltaic contractors. The calculator additionally helps estimate power financial savings and connects owners with an power advisor to assist handle the venture.

The program additionally affords a Solar Unified Network — or SUN — to vetted photo voltaic contractors who meet enterprise license and insurance coverage necessities, have a passable ranking with the Better Business Bureau, and are correctly educated by JEA. solar-to-residence connections.

In truth, the US Environmental Protection Agency not too long ago introduced a $156 million program that can present monetary help for about 10,000 single-family houses in Florida to put in rooftop photo voltaic. Low-income households could be backed 80% to 100%, and people with reasonable earnings 60% to 80%.

The cash is included in a $7 billion program that’s a part of the federal Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to cut back carbon air pollution within the US to fight local weather change.

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