Maximizing the Value of Your Solar Power in Vermont

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Solar?

If you have solar power, congratulations–you are already reaping the benefits of saving on your electric bill.  But did you know you can further increase your savings with one simple step?

For Green Mountain Power customers, the step that we recommend for residential solar owners is to switch to Rate 11.

Green Mountain Power offers different billing rates to its customers whether they have solar energy or not. Each rate is meant for a different type of usage and dictates how you pay for the kilowatt-hours (kWhs) you buy from the utility. The default is Rate 1, which is a set rate of approximately 18 cents for every kWh of electricity used. 

How do you know what rate you have? It will be located on the back of your Green Mountain Power bill.

What is Rate 11?

Rate 11 is a Residential Time of Use Service available to single-family homes, individual apartments, and farms. This means that a week is broken down into “peak” and “non-peak” periods and what you are charged for kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed is based on the time at which you use them.  Peak Hours are considered Monday through Friday for eight consecutive hours between 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm. 

During peak times, you are charged a higher than normal price, about 28 cents per kWh. A lower-priced off-peak kWh charge of 12.5 cents the rest of the time mitigates this, however.  Once you know which hours are most expensive, you can plan around that.  For example, you can program your EV Charger or Dishwasher to start running after 9pm, or only do laundry on mornings and weekends.

Therefore, Rate 11 is a great option for  the type of person who doesn’t use a lot of electricity during the day, but is home a lot on weeknights and weekends.  With solar, Rate 11 is the best option even if you are using electricity during peak times. 

Why Rate 11 Is the Better Choice if you have Solar:

When you go solar, your relationship with the utility company changes.  You are no longer simply purchasing kilowatt-hours, you are generating them.  When your solar is working, the first thing it does is provide the power for any consumption happening at a given moment.  If there is more generation that you are using, the excess is monetized and stored in your net meter bank, to be drawn on at times that your solar is not generating, e.g. at night.  

This means that for most of the peak hours, your solar will be working and taking care of your electricity consumption – you will therefore not see peak hour consumption charges even if you are using electricity then.  If you are overproducing during that time, you will have credit left over that is worth about 15.5 cents per kWh–still more valuable than the rate you will pay off-peak.

In comparison, if you have Rate 1, you are paying the set rate 24/7.  You get no benefit from lower rates during the hours that your solar is not producing, leading to a higher bill overall.

Same Sun owners Philip and Marlene Allen have been using Rate 11 for their solar-powered home for more than four years, and they have enjoyed a 20 – 40% reduction in their bill depending on the time of year. 

Rate 11 can be a great way to save money on your electric bill whether or not you have solar, but more so if you do. For questions, contact Same Sun for information about Green Mountain Power’s rates and how solar impacts your electricity bill.

141 West Street, 
Rutland, VT 05701
United States

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Buying or Selling with Solar:

Does solar increase the value of your home?

Does Solar Add Value to Your Home?

The Vermont housing market has seen unprecedented activity in the last few years, and rising prices.  Anecdotally, we’ve spoken to a number of customers that have sold their homes with solar installed, and ones that have bought them, and we always ask whether the solar factored into the sale.  This question has gotten mixed answers; they’ve reported that the buyers are often happy to have the solar but they don’t know how it impacted the sale.

The Jury is In – Solar Increases a Home’s Value

For many years we were stymied by realtors insisting that the solar was at best, not a factor and at worst, a negative.  We were even asked to remove arrays so that people could move with the equipment, despite the fact that the installation was custom-designed for the home. 

It makes sense that, all other things being equal, that a home with solar would sell for more because of the lower utility cost but that did not seem to be the conventional wisdom.  Thankfully, that has changed and the value added by solar is now widely understood.  You can easily find info on Zillow, Architectural Digest and any number of other sources that will tell you that solar not only results in lower carrying costs, but in higher desirability and a quicker sale.

How You Can Make Sure Your Solar is Considered?

The Appraisal Institute, the nationwide organization that governs real estate appraisers, is now officially on board and has published a form called The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.  You can fill this out to document efficiency and renewable upgrades and make sure it is considered in your appraisal.

What Energy Features Raise Value?

The following are among questions asked on the Green Addendum.  They will help the appraiser to quantify the added value.

Type of equipment/warranties:

Not all solar arrays are equal. At Same Sun, we only use Tier One solar equipment made in the USA like the Silfab Elite modules and Enphase micro-inverters. The better performing the equipment, the more worth it will have for your home!

Type of installation/orientation:

With in person site-evaluations, you can ensure your solar array has been placed in the optimal spot for maximum solar generation. The more energy produced- the greater the savings!


Although leasing may sound like a good idea in theory, when it comes to solar, owning is best. Not only are there great tax incentives for purchasing solar, but also a return of investment that doesn’t always come along with leasing.  Leases can typically last 20-25 years, meaning if you choose to sell before the lease expires, you may find buyers hesitant to want to take over said lease. On the contrary, when you own your solar panels, it will actually add value to your home and could potentially draw in buyers as an included feature.

Utility Costs (that are being replaced):

With every solar proposal, we provide our best estimate on how much you’ll save in electricity bills and overall costs. If you’re looking to purchase a home with low monthly utility bills, a solarized one is a great option!

Energy Efficiency Measures:

If your home has, for example, good insulation or EnergyStar appliances, this can contribute to your overall utility savings thus raising your home’s value even more.

EV Readiness:

Electric Vehicles are becoming more and more popular amongst consumers. In Vermont, there are over 5,000 EV owners. That being said, when your home has EV charging capabilities, you open up opportunities for greater buyer interest. Adding a level 2 EV charger to your home gives a vehicle owner the power to charge their car right from their own house, and this feature will become more desirable to buyers as the industry continues to grow.

If you are in contract, selling or refinancing a home that already has solar, understanding and making use of the The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum is important.  Make sure you, your lender or your appraiser have completed the form so that the array’s value can be quantified and correctly added.  

If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering one that already has solar, you should also make use of the Addendum to know what you are buying.  If you are considering a home without solar, it might be the time to embrace it and even roll the cost into your purchase money mortgage.   With additional energy features comes additional value, and solar is worth looking into before missing out on the benefits. If you have any questions on how solar energy can affect your real estate decisions, Same Sun can help:

Should I Wait?

by Philip Allen

Sometimes, Marlene and I are asked if we regret going solar 17 years ago due to the fact that the modules have improved dramatically in both wattage and efficiency. Our original Evergreen Solar modules on our garage roof were made in Massachusetts and are 180 watts and 15% efficient.

Evergreen is long out of business, and if we were to do the roof now, we would use Silfab 410-watt modules at 23% efficiency. So, yes, a new array is better than the old one. But regrets? None. This array started our contribution to clean energy and our small part in battling climate change, and they have paid for themselves in tax benefits and Green Mountain Power credits.

There are some forms of technology where it is wise to wait. Phones, computers, and TVs, for example. They get faster, smarter, and higher in resolution. But solar arrays ARE the power plant that provides all the kWhs for these things. As long as it is powering your home, it is not obsolete. Solar arrays APPRECIATE.

When we installed our first solar array in 2006, a kWh was worth 8 cents; now, it is worth 18 cents. Our arrays are worth whatever the utility is charging. Our three arrays have produced 167 megawatts, that’s 167,000 kWhs and offsetting 83 TONS of carbon thus far. We expect even the oldest to give us another ten years of free clean energy.

At some point, you have to commit to clean energy. We should have all done this 40 years ago, but it is not too late to begin. Will the technology get better? We sure hope so, but your solar array will never become obsolete because it IS your powerplant, just as the grid is not obsolete though it is 110 years old.

On the other hand, the Chevy Bolt in the driveway? We have replaced our EVs three times as that technology gets old, automobiles depreciate, and they lose that new car smell!

Contact Us to Learn More.

Summer Time and Going Solar is … Easy!

Are you interested in solar, but don’t know where to start?   Here are some of the ways we make going solar easy for you!

We make it personal!

  • It all starts with a phone call:  Simply call, or Contact Us through our website and we will call you.  A friendly advisor will ask you some questions, fill you in a bit about the process and how solar net metering works, and if it makes sense, schedule an in-person site visit. 
  • We will design a custom solar array to fit your needs:  One of our solar experts will meet you at your home or business, and gather the necessary information, including roof /ground measurements, sun and shade readings, and current and future energy needs. Following the site visit, we will design your custom array and present you with a proposal in no more than two days.  The price is always turnkey, so you will know exactly what your system will cost, and how it will offset your electric bill.
  • You will have access to everyone in our office:   This includes the owners, Philip and Marlene Allen, in the event you have concerns that are not being addressed.  Throughout the process, we are committed to you and are always available to answer technical, financial or other questions. Once your new solar system is installed, an executive from Same Sun will deliver all of your important documents and go over them with you, so you have everything you need in one place.

We do it all!

  • Filing all the documentation associated with solar can be a hassle: We file all the necessary paperwork, so you don’t have to. We handle everything from Net Metering Registrations and Building Permits to registering your products for Warranty Certificates.
  • We will be your advocate with your electricity provider:   We have years of experience working with Green Mountain Power and other utilities in navigating billing issues, advice for group allocation of solar credit, and scheduling any work that needs to be done, i.e. transformer upgrades.
  • We will minimize disruption to your life: Once you commit to a solar installation, we will schedule a Technical Site Visit with a Project Manager, who will not only verify the design and interconnection details, but work with you on aesthetics of the array and conduit, as well as best placement for both installed equipment and temporary lay-down/staging of components while we work.  After we’re done, our goal is to leave your property as we found it, i.e. thorough clean-up, re-seeding of lawn if necessary.

We’ll never leave you hanging!

  • We are committed to using quality products that stand the test of time:  We are constantly researching best practices and components that perform great and carry the best warranties.    
  • We have a dedicated Service Division:  In the case that anything ever does happen with your system, Solar ProFormance Services will be there to help.  This division of Same Sun is focused on solar panel repairs and replacements and is committed to keeping solar arrays in tip-top shape. More information on Solar Performance Services can be found here

Going solar is one of the few major purchases you will make that pays for itself. After the initial investment, you will recoup the cost of the array and enjoy years of savings, money in your pocket – instead of the utility’s.  And if you buy in 2020, you may be eligible for the 26% Federal Tax Credit.

COVID-19 UPDATE:  Rest assured, we have modified all of our procedures – site visits, technical visits and installation practices – to ensure that they are safe.  We will minimize, or eliminate, the need to go inside your home wherever possible.   

Summer 2019 Promotion

Go Solar in 2019, Pay in 2021! Call now for a FREE site visit to reserve your custom solar installation. Enjoy no-payment, no-interest financing for 18 months; if your system is installed in the fall/winter of 2019, you will not have to pay until 2021. Take advantage of your tax credit and months of electric bill savings, before having to make any payment.

Front of Summer Promotion mailer
Back of Summer Promotion Mailer