Bigger and Better in Texas: An Integrated Home Power / Transportation Solar Installation That Does It All

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Kyocera Solar panel owners are innovative – and sometimes relentless – in their quest to utilize the environmentally friendly energy of photovoltaic power. When they experience first-hand the value proposition of producing power for decades from the clean, renewable energy of the sun, it can become the driving force to "go solar" in every possible way.

Richard Golladay of Kingsland, Texas is a great example. He describes himself as a "gradual adopter" of solar energy – he started out with two Kyocera solar panels and now owns 56!

"It started with a solar-powered water well pump to serve a one-acre pecan orchard, using two small Kyocera panels," he explained.  "After operating this system for two summers and being impressed by the great quantity of water it pumped into my storage tank (which never dropped below half-full), I decided to install a medium-sized PV system to power my house."

Richard contracted for 26 Kyocera 240-watt panels, 14 of which were installed on a tractor garage asphalt shingle roof, and the other 12 on a ground mount pylon-type support.

"The first 26 panels gave me confidence that the installer, Mountaintop Solar of Boerne, Texas, was an expert whose quality and workmanship could be trusted," Richard explained. "I was impressed by Mountaintop Solar – they performed the entire PV installation, including excavating holes to form the foundations for the pylons, forming up the pylons with sona-tubes, installing rebar, excavating a trench, installing conduit, and ordering and installing a custom frame to support the ground mount panels."

"After several months with the 26-panel system, I decided to add an additional 28 panels, also on ground mounts, which brought me to a total of 54 panels, not including the original two in the orchard," Richard said. "The 12kW system more than offsets my yearly electrical load on a 3,400-square-foot house, with three heat pump A/C units -- plus, one of the ground arrays has an electric vehicle (EV) Level 2 charging station installed under it, which is a convenient place to park my Nissan Leaf electric vehicle (EV)."

Richard's four separate arrays of 54 standard Kyocera KD240GX-LFB panels, all with Enphase micro-inverters, were installed in three phases during the summer of 2012.

"The economic justification for this, in a rural area where the CO-OP does not offer rebates, might be a stretch for some people," Richard said. His reasoning was that money set aside in an IRA was depreciating, but getting the 30% IRS tax credit on the solar installation would offset the tax penalty of removing IRA funds. He further reasoned that the dollar value of paying an electric bill requires an income of $136 for every $100 spent on the electric bill (in a 27% tax bracket). And, the dollar amount of gasoline saved by running an EV saves money at a similar rate.  In other words, installing his residential PV solar system and running the EV creates a cash flow of between $400 and $500 per month, compared to the IRA which provided almost no cash flow. 

"So, in effect, I am 'paying myself'," he explained. "Add to this that the solar PV system will still have intrinsic value after 25 years, and my decision was an easy one."

Richard describes his PV solar system and electric vehicle combination as an integrated home power / transportation system. The best part is that it locks in his costs for both power and transportation indefinitely, in spite of future inflation in either electricity or gasoline costs.

"I realize that not everyone can do this the way I did," he conceded. "But solar third-party financing is available in many places, and almost everyone has to drive – so, the chance to install solar in some capacity is available to many people." 

"It's definitely something to consider," he stated. "Good luck!"