Assessing the Value of Residential Solar in Orange County, California

Published on 13 Mar, 2018 by Andrew Sendy

Categories: Solar panels, Solar power


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Californians have taken to installing residential solar energy systems in the greatest numbers of any state in the U.S. All told, solar energy powered 5.207 million homes across the state as of year-end 2016, according to the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This utility scale solar is made up of both utility scale solar farms and residential solar panels.

 

California Annual Solar Installations

Image source: Seia

 

Home to world famous beaches - Newport and Laguna to name two - as well as Disneyland, residents of Orange County, California enjoy an average 279 sunny days per year with the average daily temperature coming in at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You might think that much sunshine would make residential solar popular among Orange County residents and you'd be right.

Comparatively high utility rates in Orange County make investing in residential solar that much more attractive and beneficial. The average residential customer paid 15.98 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity last year, according to the US Dept. Of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

How much value, and how good an investment, is a residential solar energy system in Orange County? We've turned to the information resources and solar pricing tools available on-site and on our companion site, Solar-Estimate.org to find out.

Sunny Days and the Impact for Solar in Orange County

California's installed solar power generation capacity exceeded 20 gigawatts (GW) as of 2017's third quarter. That compared to around 3.8 GW in North Carolina, the state with the second-highest total. Paralleling this, the average cost of installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in California dropped 55 percent from 2013-2018, and further declines are foreseen, SEIA reports.

Southern California, including Orange County, is prime residential solar energy territory. The amount of solar energy received during an average month in the Orange County city of Anaheim is 5.63 kilowatt-hours per square meter per day (kWh/m2/day). That ranges from a low of 4.34 kWh/m2/day for an average December to a high of 6.78 for an average August.

By way of comparison, the average monthly solar radiation received in San Diego comes in at 5.77 kWh/m2/day. The monthly average in San Francisco is 5.44 kWh/m2/day.

Average Electricity Rates vs. Solar Energy in Orange County, California

Orange County residents and businesses are served by several electric utilities. Investor-owned San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) figure most prominently among them, but those in Anaheim can turn to city-owned Anaheim Public Utilities for both electricity and water services. Whatever their utility, Orange County residents and businesses pay a comparatively high price for electricity, however.

The average utility rate for electricity in Anaheim was 18.77 cents/kWh as of November 2017. That was about 44 percent higher than the national average of 13.01 cents/kWh at the time.

That makes residential solar a particularly attractive investment. The average California resident consumes 573 kWh of electricity per month. Given high utility rates and high rates of consumption, California ranks #2 in the nation when it comes to savings from residential solar installations.

Taking a closer look at the city of Anaheim, the average cost of installing residential solar panels comes in at $3.89 per watt over the last 12 months, according to data from solar customers visiting SolarReviews. That's expected to decline further in 2018 and coming years despite the recent decision by President Donald Trump to impose additional import duties on imported solar cells and panels, not only from China but worldwide.

Elsewhere in Orange County, it costs an average $3.89/per watt, AC to have a residential solar PV system installed in Aliso Viejo's 92653 zip code. Installation of a 3-kW PV system averages $3.92/W, while that for a 10-kW PV system averages $3.37/kW.

This is more than the state average and reflects the popularity in the region of "premium solar panel manufacturers," such as LG Solar, Panasonic, SolarWorld Americas and SunPower.

What is the All-In Cost of Residential Solar Energy in Orange County in 2018?

Furthermore, Orange County and California residents can benefit from various solar energy incentives. Those incentives extend from the federal, state government level and also the utility level.

The mix of the current 30% federal solar investment tax credit, Interconnection Standards for Small Generators, California's Net Metering and the California Solar Initiatives' - Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH) Program combine to make solar super attractive in this part of Southern California

All told, installation of a hypothetical, 6.1-kW rooftop solar energy system on a large, single-family house with an average monthly utility bill of $200 in Aliso Viejo's Monclava neighborhood would be able to produce all the electricity they need and wind up with a net profit (savings less system cost) of $84,322 over the system's productive life.

Of course, the best way to get a good handle on the cost of installing a residential solar energy system for your home is to obtain live price quotes from local installers. That's something we'll delve into for Orange County residents in the second installment of this two-part series. However, you can get a head start by registering on our site, inputting some basic information and getting a live quote from companies installing solar energy systems throughout Orange County.

How do I find the Best Solar Companies in Orange County?

SolarReviews makes it easy to find the best solar installation company in Orange County. Based on the latest customer reviews and our ranking engine, Semper Solaris and Greempower rate a perfect score of 5.00, while SunLux Energy rates an overall score of 4.95. 

SolarReviews goes a step further when it comes to helping you get the best possible handle on the cost of installing a residential solar energy system for your home. We enable you to obtain live price quotes from local installers. That's something we'll delve into for Orange County residents in the second installment of this two-part series. However, you can get a head start by registering on our site, input some basic information and get a live quote from companies installing solar energy systems throughout Orange County now if you wish.



Author: Andrew Sendy

As chairman of Solar Investments Inc and chairman of the largest solar panel installation company in South Australia, Andy is passionate about solar power. With his unique working background he writes on the residential solar industry in America from a unique perspective.