Georgetown Home is First to Go Solar

by Mark Wellborn

A few weeks ago, we did a post on Georgetown Energy, a student-run group at Georgetown University that has been organizing community meetings and talking to area homeowners about the benefits of solar power. The group’s goal is to have 40 Georgetown homes go solar by May 2011.

It appears that they are on their way to achieving that goal. WAMU had a story earlier this week about Georgetown resident Patrick Clawson, the first person in the neighborhood to install a solar power system for his home.

Patrick Clawson’s home.

Clawson’s 128-year-old row house on 33rd Street now has 14 large solar panels on its roof, according to WAMU. A company called Clean Currents Solar partnered with Georgetown Energy to install the panels.

Georgetown Energy claims that the DC, Federal and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) can help recoup 90 percent of the solar costs, and by ordering equipment through them, homeowners can save 3 percent of the gross cost.

Clawson is now in good company with other DC residents who are using solar installations to power their home. WAMU reports that President Obama recently gave the go-ahead to install solar panels on top of the White House.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/georgetown_home_is_first_to_go_solar/2578


  1. jag said at 1:06 pm on Friday October 15, 2010:

    Wow, I’m shocked that it took till 2010 for someone in GTown to go solar - that’s just sad, but good for Mr. Clawson for taking the step!

  1. dzad said at 2:04 pm on Friday October 15, 2010:

    i think there is a lot of misunderstanding with solar.  let me help spread more of it:  solar power is great when you have a ton of space for a lot of solar power cells.  also, you have to be able to achieve the direct sunlight and ample amounts of it.  even then when you have all these factors in place, it would still take years for those cells to be profitable from the savings off the electric bill.

  1. jag said at 3:27 pm on Friday October 15, 2010:

    Course it’s not for everyone’s house, but it’s hard to believe that there aren’t plenty of sites that get adequate sunlight. The housing turnover in GTown is tiny and the upfront costs are much easier for this class of citizens to absorb and those are by far the two biggest impediments to residential solar. I anticipate this taking off, with the help of GTown students and the awareness they are bringing to the community.

  1. bill said at 11:22 am on Monday October 18, 2010:

    dzad:  Thanks for spreading more misunderstanding.  Yes, it would typically take a long time to recoup a solar investment, but Georgetown solar claims that 90% of the cost can be recouped up front through grants, tax credits, and SREC sales.

    I just received my DC grant ($3/watt for first 3000 watts, less per watt after that), and look forward to a 30% federal tax credit this year as well as a few thousand in up-front SREC sales.  This is for a small solar install typical of DC row house roofs.  The combination of these incentives reduce the time needed to recoup the investment in our case to < 1 year.  Obviously you need to have a roof that isn’t shaded by a tall building or tree, but most DC row houses I’ve seen are not.

  1. John said at 4:24 pm on Monday October 18, 2010:

    Bill: Thanks for your post but how can others (attempt to) replicate your impressive results?  My wife and I own a home in Takoma Park, MD, and have only just begun to research the feasibility of doing the same thing.

  1. bill said at 11:06 am on Tuesday October 19, 2010:

    John:  I don’t know what incentives if any Maryland has for solar; the DC REIP (renewable energy incentives program) is great because it’s substantial and it’s a grant(and not a tax credit) so it defrays the upfront cost somewhat.  We are also doing a 1-year same-as-cash financing (no finance charges if paid in 1 year) so we can recoup our tax credit and apply that to the cost.

    DC has a couple of solar co-ops (Mt Pleasant & Capitol Hill) that are good sources of information; there are resources like an extensive break-even spreadsheet and a survey of home installs that’s useful for comparing vendors/costs/etc.  We basically read a lot and asked questions before we did anything.


    Here’s info on the Federal tax credit:

    good luck!

  1. Anthony Conyers said at 11:39 am on Tuesday October 19, 2010:

    Hi John! I’m Anthony Conyers, the co-founder of Georgetown Energy, the group that helped Dr. Clawson go solar.

    The incentives for Maryland and Virginia are different, but we have spoken to people from both states about going solar. Feel free to give me a call at (480) 993-9531 or email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    We don’t charge for any of your services—we are here to answer your questions.

  1. Bilsko said at 1:43 pm on Tuesday October 19, 2010:

    You posted good list of resources - let me add one. Its the most comprehensive one for incentives (Federal and state-by-state), interconnection rules, net-metering standards, and other useful info.


    It’s not solar specific - good for those who are looking at other types of distributed generation (and efficiency measures!), but it looks like they’ve ramped up their solar offerings lately so it may be particularly useful for would-be PV panel installations.

    I’m a bit surprised that this project actually has reasonable economics. The 30% ITC + the $3,000/kW are clearly the bulk of the upfront costs. I haven’t looked lately, but SRECs historically haven’t been *that* good around DC - I’m guessing that the solar developer was able to secure SRECs elsewhere in the PJM region - in NJ they’re particularly lucrative - around 50c/kWh - but there’s no guarantee that that’s the SREC price that they were able to lock in.

    Good to see this kind of project. For those who are interested in this approach, but find the whole thing kind of overwhelming, solar thermal/hot water would be an alternative.

  1. Anthony Conyers said at 12:08 am on Wednesday October 20, 2010:

    Hi Bilsko,

    A resident can earn 1 SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate) per every 1000 kWh (or 1 mWh) generated. The energy generated translates to about 1.2 SRECs per kW installed.

    People with solar have a few options for selling their SRECs:

    1. If their installer partners with an aggregator, the owner of solar can take an upfront payment for all the SRECs generated by their system (usually determined by kW installed at around $1000-1500 per kW)

    2. Through a similar relationship, the owner of solar can receive a check (usually quarterly) for the SRECs generated in that period, at around $200-400 per SREC.

    3. The owner of a solar installation can choose to sell the SRECs themselves on the open market. This method has very high upside and high downside.

    SolSystems is an example of an SREC aggregator that some installers partner with.

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