The Needle
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Step Into the Sun

On the Up and Up: Solar Energy


With 2018 just days away, the future is staring us in the face. New Year’s Resolutions will be written, commitments will be made - each ending ushers in a new beginning. January symbolizes a chance to make improvements. Several cities in South Florida are dipping their toes into sustainability efforts such as solar energy, aiming to turn over a new, perhaps greener, leaf.

The City of South Miami passed an ordinance this year requiring new residential constructions to install a percentage of solar panels on sunlit roof areas. Existing homeowners wanting to go green can benefit from the city’s negotiated volume discounting with approved contractor Goldin Solar, LLC. Concerned about the high cost of making renewable energy improvements? The YGRENE Green Corridor Financing Program offers 100% financing to qualified owners, the cost of which can be repaid through the property’s tax . bill in up to 30 years. All is well if selling is on the horizon, financing stays with the property and is transferable to the buyer. South Miami is not the only city making efforts in the sustainability department.

Multiple cities across Miami-Dade are boarding the renewable energy train in a co-op called Solar United Neighbors of Florida. Homeowners investing in solar panels “net meter” power back to FPL and see immediate cost savings via credits for each kilowatt produced. Month to month, new utility bills reflect total power used minus the kilowatt hours generated by the property. If a home generates more power than it uses, credits per every extra kilowatt hour are applied to future bills. South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard’s entire home runs on solar - as a point of reference, his monthly power bill averages around $10.

So why isn’t everyone stepping into the sun? Thus far, eight residential properties have taken advantage of discounted pricing secured by the city of South Miami. Complications arise from a tedious permitting process due to Miami-Dade County hurricane code. Solar panels need to sustain a whopping 175 mph winds; companies are under more scrutiny here than other parts of the country.

Florida architect Matthew Kragh is optimistic it’s only a matter of time for solar energy to gain momentum. “Tesla is creating roofing material with solar technology right in the roofing surface. I truly think our entire industry will change in two years. Nobody does it now because solar panels are ugly and you’re limited. You could do a beautiful roof, lower your carbon footprint, save money. You’re talking about an additional $150,000 - but people are spending that and more on backup generators.”

Sustainable homes are becoming increasingly more desirable to prospective buyers. What’s more, solar energy lowers carbon emissions and builds a better tomorrow for those who come after us. So while initial costs are high, the payoff is priceless. That’s the kind of investment worth getting behind.

Jared Klein