Taking the step toward solar power

Atlantic Beach homeowner installs solar energy system


Atlantic Beach homeowner Raina Russo woke her two children up at 7 a.m. as Mercury Solar Systems pulled into her driveway ready to install the solar energy system she and her husband have been wanting for nearly two years.

After more than a year of research, Russo met with Mercury Sales Representative Tim Rothschild for an initial site visit in December to make sure her roof would be a good candidate for solar energy as well as discuss the financial aspects. “The three factors that tell you what the solar energy system will produce are the tilt, pitch and orientation of the roof,” Rothschild said.

An optimal roof for the system would have little to no trees and have plenty of sunlight coming onto it. “You have to have a property with minimal to no shading,” Russo said. “Southern exposure is ideal but east and west facing roofs work well too.”

Solar energy works when the sun’s energy is absorbed in the solar panels and is converted to a direct electrical current. The system’s inverter then changes the electrical current from direct electrical current to alternating current, which is the form of electrical power used in a home. The meter and monitor then track the system’s performance and through a process called net metering where excess power is produced is returned to the Long Island Power Authority’s power grid, and the homeowner receives a discount from LIPA.

The initial cost of Russo’s system was $47,150 but the Long Island Power Authority offers a rebate to motivate solar installation among residents and a $17,500 rebate was applied to the cost immediately so the final cost came to $29,650. Even after the cost was totaled, Russo earned a one-time federal tax credit of $14,145 by going solar and a $5,000 New York State tax credit.

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