Post-Installation and Beyond

Guest post by New England Clean Energy Customer C.J. Siano

The office staff that handled the paperwork, the various state filings, and all the rest were on top of it the whole way. I was told it might be up to three weeks from the finish of the project until we could go live. Instead, it was hardly a week. The whole project was like that. Expectations were clearly set on how long a particular state/utility process might take and always the approval was complete in less time. I much prefer this than to be told ”about a week” only to be still waiting and wondering what was going on.

Once everything was in place and tested, N.E. Clean Energy made an appointment when both my wife and I were available so that we could be shown exactly what the system did and how it operated. This did not take long, but was a very methodical presentation that made sure nothing was forgotten. Everything from snow safety (large panel arrays will release all their snow in one heavy dump for example) to what might be needed 10 or 15 years down the road was discussed. Our warranty was clearly explained (basically, they stand behind everything for 20 years and some pieces as long as 25 years).

HouseSolar-1_320x240 About a week after we went live, N.E. Clean Energy set up and delivered the on-line monitoring. Using this website or app, I can easily get a picture of the performance of the system at any time. It also maintains statistics and compares production over time. From each specific panel on the roof to the output of the inverter going to the grid, everything is reported and monitored. Any fault would be clearly indicated.

The crews were professional, friendly, and obviously love their jobs. They take pride in their work and the results show. If the system functions as well for the next 25 years as the crew did installing it, I will never have a thing to complain about. The best part? If it doesn’t work, they will be back to fix it at no charge. You don’t make that kind of promise unless you know the quality is there to start. And this isn’t a national company with workers coming from who knows where. All these people are a part of the local community. These are quite literally my neighbors.

I’ve had some questions from time to time and simply sent an Email to one or more of the employees. The question was always quickly responded to.

From the moment I arranged to meet with a sales person to just the other day when I asked a question, every part of this experience was great. They have been paid in full, but the service has not changed.

If I had to nitpick something, I did find a few of the metal clips that attach the panels to the rack system in my garden when I cleaned it out for the winter. That’s it. Three little black aluminum clips that were dropped into a crowded garden. Considering they had to install 156 of them, I’m not complaining. And seriously, that is the only thing I can think of that wasn’t done perfectly.

We went live near the end of the day Oct 1st. Our previous meter reading was on Sept 16th, so our first bill with solar was a very nice split between pre-solar and post-solar consumption. Instead of the roughly $110 bill we might have had for this period, our bill was under $30. Not only had we covered half the month with solar, but we built enough credit to erase half the bill from the pre-solar period as well. We’ll be lucky to cover our use during the next few winter months, but once Spring comes, we should be building up a credit that will ensure that we’ll never again see a positive electric bill.

I’m not all that concerned with having a large credit. Every watt we push back to the grid is a watt that didn’t come from a fossil fuel.  The new challenge is reminding the family that just because we have solar, we still need to be aware of our usage.  But, I can no longer say “Turn the light off when you leave the room – do you think that electricity is free?” because in some ways, for us, it now is. In just over 6 years (at today’s rates) the system will have paid for itself, and after that it won’t just be free, but returning dividends!

Do yourself a favor and have N.E. Clean Energy come and quote you first — you’ll be judging everyone else on their benchmark.

Missed the first two installments? Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.