The Mayor of South Miami, Florida led the commission to approve the ordinance that all new construction would require 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of floor space or 2.75 KW per 1,000 square feet. There are many incorrect assumptions made in the Miami Herald article.
It is said, it lowers the cost of home ownership, that is bogus claim number one. The National Renewable Energy Lab has a free solar calculator. It will estimate how much your solar system will produce and how much it will cost. My home has great east, south and west exposure. According the calculator it would take 14.8 years to pay off the solar system based on energy savings. During that 14.8 years paying off the cost of the system combined with the electric bill would cost me more than I’m paying now.
Bogus or misleading statement two, the mayor has a solar system and his electricity bill is $10 per month. That sounds nice till you factor in the cost of the solar system. His monthly energy cost is considerably higher, he just pays the solar manufacturer and installer rather than the utility.
Here are a few solar system facts for the uninformed. Solar only works when the sun is shining! If you want battery backup your front end cost is considerably higher and you no longer are doing anything positive for the planet because of the mining required for battery components and then their disposal. The biggest times of energy use in the USA is between 6-8 am and 6-8 pm. Drawn out on a graph it looks like a duck’s back, thus called the Duck Curve. Solar is most productive during sun tanning hours 10 am – 2 pm. It can produce before and after those hours but the output is curtailed considerably. Solar is most productive when the need for it is at the lowest point. Also, solar panels ratings are what the absolute maximum performance would be in a perfect world. They often actually only produce 80% of the rated output. Solar panels degrade at an estimated rate of 3% annually. In my case, by the time I paid off the system in 14.8 years, its output would be half of what it was originally. The last thing, if you live in town, you will still need connected to the grid and will receive a utility bill. You only have a couple of options here. You must have some type of storage for your solar system, or be able to live with no electricity all night and anytime the sun doesn’t shine or keep paying your utility company for taking up the slack when your solar isn’t working. For a city to make an ordinance requiring new construction to have solar is ludicrous!