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      09-27-2021, 08:56 AM   #34
zx10guy
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Originally Posted by 2000cs View Post
Another thought on utilities, specifically electric (and maybe nat gas).
In the 1970s there were no substitutes for local electric service (fully regulated, one provider). With both deregulation in many states and much better solar panels, it could make sense to install rooftop solar and minimize or bypass (off-grid) the electric utility. This would create a competitive price cap, further reducing the pricing power of utilities and making them a bad investment (at least on the margin).

For nat gas, if you believe the price will rise persistently (perhaps because of carbon regulation instead of general inflation), then you would consider switching to electric appliances and solar panels as a way to avoid those cost increases.

Thanks @mdf for stimulating these thoughts.
Here are my thoughts on solar. I looked into having solar installed. I use quite a bit of electricity as I choose to run what amounts to a data center in my basement. The problem with solar (even with tax credits) is the initial price shock. When I looked at a system, I was looking at around $20k to replace about 40% of my usage. Next, is your home's layout and environmental situation. Is there adequate roof space? Where is that roof space pointing in relation to sun exposure? What are your local building codes? This last part was what made solar even less attractive for me. The local building codes changed just prior to me looking into solar. The code requires a setback from the roof's edge to facilitate access for firefighters to walk on the roof. Because of the setback requirement, this decreased the number of panels I could use. Next is your roof's condition. If your roof has some age to it, you either have to replace the roof (further driving up the cost of the install) or plan on paying the labor to take the panels down when a new roof is installed. Finally, I heard the inverters used in solar systems have a finite life span which is a few years. Replacing an inverter if I recall correctly is about $3k. So as you can see, it's no small endeavor to get solar installed.

The alternative to not outright buying your own system is to lease one. There are a few companies that do this such as Solar City and Vivint. The issue is in the details of the contract where they charge you an amount per kW consumed. The devil is in the details as to the increases that are tacked on over time. Not to mention that you've entered into what usually amounts to a 20 year contract with them. If you sell the house, you have to get the new buyers to assume the remainder of the contract. Not all buyers want to do this.

In the end, my decision process is very much the same as deciding whether to go EV or stay with ICE. For me neither made sense from a practicality stand point and from a financial.
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