Rooftop Solar

Today I’m blogging about a proposed initiative that I’m very passionate about.  I want to see rooftop solar projects installed on hundreds of homes and businesses in our village.  This will create the energy we need for the future and put money in the bank accounts of participating home owners.

Did you know solar is now the cheapest way to produce electricity?

For a few years now solar has been the most economical way to generate new electricity. And we’re going to need a lot of it.  Electricity production must increase 26% between now and 2050 in the United States to meet forecast demand.*

So where will all that electricity come from?

Power companies will gladly sell us more electricity for a high price, but I think it makes sense for us to start generating some of our energy needs on our own.  I’ve done this on my own home with a rooftop solar project.  I’m extremely happy with it as it saves a lot of money on my energy bill.

My idea is for the Village of Howard to help facilitate these installation projects for homeowners and businesses, without requiring out of pocket expenses.

So how do we do this?

Village staff would facilitate the program through partnerships with private companies.  A Request for Proposal (RFP) would invite potential partners to submit bids for various portions of the program.  There would be three primary components: site selection, installation, and financing.

Site Selection

The first step is to identify properties that would benefit from a rooftop solar project.  Homes with rooftops that are not shaded by trees would qualify, and it helps to have the roof sloping towards the south.  The solar industry uses rating systems to determine suitability for solar projects, and a vendor would use one of these systems to provide the village with a list of suitable properties.  With a list in hand, the village contacts property owners to invite them to participate in the program, which would have the following benefits for property owners:

  • Rooftop solar installed with a group discounted rate (20-30%)
  • Federal Tax Credit equal to 30% of the project cost
  • No out of pocket costs
  • Greatly reduced utility bills, saving thousands over the lifetime of the system

Once interested property owners have signed up for the program, solar installers would bid on the installation projects.  By pooling a large number of properties together and realizing efficiencies of scale, homeowners get a significant discount compared with pursing projects independently.  Installers would work with each homeowner and address site specific concerns.  A common consideration is the age of the roof, as homeowners may decide to replace a roof prior to installing a rooftop solar project.  Rooftop solar does increase the cost of a roof replacement project once the solar portion is installed.


So how do we pay for it?  A cute answer is that the sunshine pays, because the sun works for free.  Here is the more detailed version:

Part of the RFP process would be a financial portion, preferably a local financial institution operating separately from the solar installer.  Financing proposals would meet the following requirements:

  • Loans are automatically approved for all program participants
  • Secured by the property owner’s equity
  • Minimum payments must not exceed the value of projected energy bill savings
  • If the property is sold, loans are transferrable to the new property owner

By arranging financing in this way, homeowners have no requirement for a large up front expense, and they pay off the debt with the energy bill savings.  The expected life span of a solar project is 25 years, and the expected payback period is usually 6-10 years.  This program proposal, therefore, provides Howard property owners 15-19 years of financial benefits once the loan is paid off.

What about reliability when the sun doesn’t shine?

Great question. My rooftop solar system creates more energy than I need in the summer, and less than I need in the winter. The system is still connected to the grid, so any excess power is sold back to WPS, and I’m able to purchase the power I need when the sun isn’t shining. Most systems are not designed to cover 100% of energy needs.

Let’s sum things up

This Rooftop Solar Vision will provide Howard with the following benefits:

  • More money in the pockets of property owners
  • Economic stimulus for local electricians, roofers, and financial professionals
  • More energy to meet future demand
  • Reduced stress on the electrical grid
  • Environmental benefits of clean energy

If this vision resonates with you, I would appreciate your vote for Howard Village President on April 4.  I believe we can realize this rooftop solar vision before the end of my first term in office.

*Annual Energy Outlook 2022, U.S. Energy Information Administration