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The Advantages of Solar Powered Homes: An Interview with Adam Gusse of H&H Solar Energy Services

By Adam Gusse

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

H&H has been providing contracting services in the Madison area since 1901. Starting as a small plumbing and gas piping business, H&H grew into H&H Group Holdings.

What are some of the services your company provides?

H&H Group Holdings (our current umbrella company) provides electrical, plumbing, fire & security and energy management services. H&H Solar began providing solar installation services in early 2000. H&H Solar has consistently installed more solar energy systems annually than any other contractor in Wisconsin.

All of our installers are Master or Journeyman Electricians and Plumbers. H&H has worked hard to continuously provide outstanding installation services by retaining the same experienced crews and improving our techniques and efficiency.

In recent years, do you believe the demand for solar powered homes has increased, decreased, or stayed the same? And why do you believe that happened?

Demand for solar in Wisconsin has been consistent for the past few years. What has increased is the average size of installations. Several factors contributed to this: panel prices have fallen dramatically in the past three years. Incentives and tax credits have, for the most part, remained consistent. Solar has become even more main stream as a growing number of people find it affordable and understand the long term benefits.

Can you please explain the general concept behind solar powers (i.e. Do they completely replace your electricity bill or do they just help lower it? How do they work?)

Solar panels on a home or building generate electricity that is used in that building, or is fed back to the utility grid through your meter. Typically during the daytime the solar is generating more than the building is consuming and then power is brought in from the utility at night or overcast days.

The excess credits from power sent back to the grid are then "netted" at the end of the month on your utility bill. The solar panels make Direct Current (DC) power, similar to a battery, that is then inverted to Alternating Current (AC) power that is useable in most electric services. Solar electric systems can also be ground mounted or "track" the sun, but cost increases as technology is added.

What are some benefits of having solar panels?

Having solar panels is a way to hedge future energy purchases from a Utility by producing free, clean energy from the sun. Once a system is installed, the cost of producing solar power will never increase. Solar electric systems require virtually no maintenance - rooftop arrays have no moving parts. Solar panels carry a manufacturer's warranty to produce 80% of their rated output for 25 years. System design life is 30-40 years or more. A solar array will not/cannot raise the assessed value of the home.

How many solar panels does a house require in order for them to be effective?

A 24 panel, 5 kW solar electric system will produce about 6,000 kilowatts annually. The number of panels required depends upon how much power the home uses. We size systems based on three criteria: a) roof space, b) kilowatt hour usage, or c) budget.

A 5kW solar electric system will cost about $20K - $23K depending on difficulty of installation. Incentives include a 30% Federal Tax Credit (available through 2016) and cash back rewards from Focus on Energy. Commercial customers can also take advantage of accelerated depreciation for solar ? if they have the tax appetite. Before an installation or even a bid, we discuss options with customers to provide the most optimal scenario.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Our phone number is 608-273-4464 and our website is www.hhsolarenergy.com.

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About The Author

Adam Gusse is Vice President at H&H Solar Energy Services.

Phone: 608-273-4464

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