Installing solar

Alabama is one of the sunniest states in the U.S. But it has been slow to adopt rooftop solar. One reason is that the state’s largest utility charges an extra fee to residents who generate their own electricity.

Hansen: “It’s five dollars per kilowatt per month that Alabama Power is charging customers who install solar panels on their home and connect it to the grid. A typical system in Alabama is around five kilowatts, so if you’re being charged five dollars per kilowatt per month, that’s $25 per month, and then over the course of the year, that’s $300.”

That’s Michael Hansen of GASP, a local environmental nonprofit. He says the fee cuts into a homeowner’s return on investment, so it’s a disincentive for people considering rooftop solar.

To help offset the fee, GASP has partnered with a solar company in Birmingham to offer a five percent discount on solar installations for GASP members.

Hansen: “It doesn’t offset the entire amount of the fees that you’ll end up paying, but it does help.”

The group hopes to boost residential solar in the state.

Hansen: “We have an opportunity to improve our health and our environment and our economy all at the same time if we really take advantage of clean, renewable energy.”

Reporting credit: Rachel Gulbraa/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Roland Balik, U.S. Air Force

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