Are solar panels worth it for TECO Tampa electric customers?
The low cost of electricity in Florida generally and more specifically in the Tampa area has meant that Tampa electric has less solar customers than equivalent sized utilities in other states.
However, things have changed dramatically during 2017 and Florida has generally seen an explosion of demand for residential solar that is extending into 2018.
This trend started several months earlier on the back of the Florida voters rejecting a proposed Amendment 1 to the Florida Solar Rights Act in November 2016.
This amendment could be viewed as a sneaky attempt by the utilities to restrict the rights of homeowners to have solar that interacts with the public electric grid, to instead only be allowed systems that provided solar electricity for their own consumption. This would have essentially ended the legal protection of net metering in Florida, which in the law that requires utilities to pay homeowners the full retail price for excess solar power they feed back into the grid.
Given that neither electricity prices nor solar rebates have changed significantly during 2017, I think the only explanation for the explosion of solar interest in Florida is that the public debate has brought the topic of solar to the forefront of people's minds. News articles and discussions about the proposed Amendment to the Solar Rights Act led homeowners to realise, perhaps for the first time, that net metering is a really generous incentive and something that they should use to their advantage.
What are Tampa Electric's Net Metering rates?
Tampa Electric pay the full retail value for energy exported back to the grid. This means every 1 kWh you export to the grid is worth the same as what it would cost you to import the same amount of electricity.
On a time-of-use plan you pay different amounts depending on the time of day or what season it is. The net metering rate works in exactly the same way. The energy you export during non-peak hours will be worth the non-peak rate (currently 1.665 cents per kWh). Similarly, energy exported during the peak period will be worth the peak rate, 15.823 cents per kWh.
For an average Tampa Electric customer owning a single family home and with a power bill of $208 per month the gross cost for installing a 12.51kW solar system is $30,650, which is $2.45 per watt. Upfront incentives (including the 26% federal solar tax credit) reduce this cost by $7,969 making the net cost $22,681.
See your solar panel installation cost from your local solar companies around Florida
How does Tampa Net Metering work?
Net Metering is when the utility gives you full retail value for the energy you put back into the grid. Excess energy produced by solar (or other energy production) is pumped into the grid when it cannot be used immediately in the home. The Utility then awards a credit to your account for each kWh exported. This credit can then be exchanged for each kWh imported to the home.
To be eligible for net metering, Tampa Electric will need to install a bi-directional meter so the excess power you produce can flow back into the grid. They will install this free of charge.
How much do I save if I install solar panels for my home as an Tampa Electric customer?
The savings will vary depending on how much your power bill is now, the time of day that you use power and the size of system you decide to purchase. Often the size of the system and the savings generated are dictated by available roof space. It can also vary based on the direction of your roof or any shading of your roof that effects output.
Here is a monthly and lifetime solar estimate for the same customer used above that has a $208 per month electric bill prior to solar and who installs a 12.51kW solar system.
Zero-down financed solar system estimate for a Tampa Electric customer
Monthly savings year one $50
The graph above shows the savings for this customer in the first month that their solar system is live. It assumes that the system is purchased via a 100% loan product.
One of the common reasons why people have been slow to install solar panels despite the excellent financial return that they give to Tampa Electric customers is that often the first months savings are not enough to motivate them to go through the process of buying solar. However, it is important that people realize that solar savings grow over time as utility prices increase. As can be seen in the graph, the solar saving are sizeable when totalled over the life of the system, not just the first month.
The graph below shows the savings for the same customer over 25 years. Please note the overall profit is slightly less than what was displayed for a cash purchase of the same system above. The difference being that we have included the cost of interest in the lifetime savings summary below.
Zero-down financed solar system cash flow
|System Size||12.51 kW|
The above cash flow projection assumes a solar system that offsets 100% of power usage, a finance rate of 3.99%, a financing period of 20 years, a minimum utility charge equivalent to 10% of bill without solar, and a utility cost inflation rate of 4.5% p.a.
What is the average payback period for residential solar panels for an Tampa Electric customer?
The payback period for an Tampa Electric customer installing solar panels on their roof at home depends on their power usage prior to installing solar, the time of day in which they use power and the size of system they install. What we have done below is copy an extract from the leading online solar panel savings calculator which shows that the payback period for a typical Tampa Electric customer as we've discussed above. You can visit this calculator yourself and enter your own current power bill to see your solar savings and your likely payback period. You'll note that for customers with larger monthly power bills the payback time is usually slightly shorter because the cost of solar systems per watt usually reduces as the system size increases.
See your savings and payback period based on your electricity use and location in the Tampa territory
Estimated system size 12.51kW (100% usage offset)
Pay Back Period
7 Years 9 Months
Est. Cost/WattEstimated Cost Per Watt
(after 26% tax credit and local incentives)
Annual Power Generation
Your total savings over the life of the system are estimated to be $78,274
|Estimated south facing roof space required||834 sq-ft|
|Levelized cost of power from this system over 25 years||5¢ cents/kWh|
|System cost reduction by upfront incentives||-$7,969|
|Average cost of utility power over 25 years (if you don't get solar)||26¢ cents/kWh|
|Equivalent Return on Investment (IRR)||12.5%|
|Monthly Savings year 25 (for 100% energy usage)||$598.13|
System prices are estimated based on the average reported cost of systems installed in the past year. Pay Back Period and Equivalent Return on Investment are calculated based on a 100% cash purchase. Estimated Cost Per Watt is calculated after claiming all applicable incentives. This estimate assumes you are able to take full advantage of potential tax benefits.
Cash Flow graph - Cash Purchase of this system
What incentives, tax credits and rebates are available to Tampa Electric customers for installing solar?
As is the case with most utilities around America, Tampa Electric no longer offers up-front cash incentives paid by the utility to encourage their customers to install solar panels. There are some upfront incentives available for customers on low incomes and some available for new home construction. You should ask your local solar company about whether you may be eligible for any such incentives. Solar may also be eligible for some wider energy efficiency grants or credits although these are also limited in scope and application.
The major financial incentive currently available until the end of 2020 is the 26% federal solar tax credit. However the way this works is that the full cost of the system needs to be paid to the installer and this tax credit can then be claimed back as cash when you next do your taxes.
Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption
Solar energy systems are exempt from state sales and use tax
Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property
100% of the value of a solar energy systems is exempt from property taxes.
Loans that are paid back through an increase in property taxes. Loans are attached to the property so if the homeowner moves, the next property owner pays back the loan.
Unsecured personal loans for those in underserved communities for sustainable home improvements.
Investor-owned utilities are required to offer their customers the full retail rate for each excess kWh they export to the grid.
Lakeland Electric - Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program
0% interest loan up to $5,000, must be resident and homeowner, On-bill repayment
Florida Keys Electric Cooperative - Solar Loan Program
Competitive interest loans of up to $35,000 for solar and energy storage. On-bill repayment and 10-year term with no penalty for prepayment.
Orlando Utilities Commission - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
$2,000 for installing solar+battery systems. Battery must have capacity of 8 kWh or greater.
Jacksonville Electric Authority - Solar Battery Incentive Program
$4,000 rebate per home/business on the purchase of a qualified battery storage system.
Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Please keep in mind that the best source of up-to-date information on incentives are the solar installers who specialize in your area. If you still are unsure about the eligibility criteria of some of the solar incentive programs, please discuss with the solar installer representative who may contact your shortly, or visit the solar incentives discussion forum where the most common questions are likely to have already been answered.
Detailed information about your estimate
|System Size (for 100% usage offset)||12.51 kW|
|Annual Power Generation||17,333 kWh|
|Pay-back time (assuming Cash purchase)||7 Years 9 Months|
|Internal Rate of Return (IRR) on Investment||12.5 %|
|Total Upfront Incentives and Rebates||-$7,969|
|Net Cost of System after rebates and incentives||$22,681|
|Total Cost of Utility Power Avoided over 25 years||$111,231|
Please note that the investment return figures do not include the possible increase in property value.
What are the environmental impacts from Tampa Electric customers installing solar panels for their home?
While most home owners ultimately decide to install solar panels because of the financial savings they offer over time, for some people it is the environmental impacts of this choice that drive the decision to install solar. Here is a break down of the environmental benefits delivered by the installation of a 12.51kW solar system.
A solar system generating 17,333 kWh per year will save you money AND make the world a nicer place
on average per year
Reduces CO2 emissions
metric tons per year
Equivalent to planting
Equivalent to driving
less per year
CO2 emissions calculation based on the electricity generation and emissions data for your state in 2015 as published by the US Government Energy Information Administration.
How much power do solar panels installed in the Tampa Electric Co. territory produce?
The amount of power produced by solar panels across the TECO service territory varies depending on the specific location and the characteristics of the roof on which the system is installed. However, as an example, a typical 8 kW system will produce up to 11,200 kWh annually in the Tampa area. You can enter your zip code below to see power production for your exact situation, and also get pricing from local solar companies.
See power production and also get pricing from local solar companies
How much does solar panel installation cost in the Tampa Electric Co. territory?
The cost of installing solar panels will vary with brands of solar panels and inverters you choose and also the installation company you choose to install them. However, as a general note the lack of a law supporting third party owned solar leases and PPA agreements in Florida has meant that the outright purchase or loan purchase model has always been the dominant financing models for solar panels. Consequently the solar panels cost in Florida is one of the cheapest residential solar panels installation costs in America.
What rate does Tampa actually pay me for excess solar power I export?
Tampa offers a credit for the energy you export back to the grid. This means for every kWh you export to the grid you will receive a credit for 1 kWh whenever you need it. The precise value of the credit is based on your current retail energy rate.
This is great for solar, it means that you can store excess power during the day in the grid and use the credits you've banked up during the day at night. Check out this net metering sample bill to get a better understanding of how the process works.
Who are the best solar companies that service my local part of the TECO territory?
As the TECO territory covers a number of cities there are different solar companies operating locally in each as well as some that cover the whole territory.
If you are up to the stage of wanting quotes from solar installers you can get a system sized for your house and up to four quotes from installers that service your area for free online by entering your zip code below.
See my solar panel installation cost from your local installers
How much electricity will solar panels produce where I live?
How do I get an accurate solar quotes that takes into account my home and my power usage?
To do this they need to know your power usage patterns. This will allow you to come up with the amount of solar panels you would ideally want to making your power bill zero.
Once you determine the right amount of solar panels you then need to measure your roof to see how many panels will actually fit on your roof - although this can be complicated by local building codes that may specify "set back" distances. Most solar companies can measure roof spaces free of charge online, using tools that are similar to Google Maps (but are more accurate).
The www.solar-estimate.org website is the leading solar marketplace in America and allows you to both do an accurate online estimate of your needs and request quotes from solar companies through one interface.