Frequently Asked Questions

General
How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.

What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

Home and business owners can often realize a 10% ROI or better. Given their longevity, the systems will pay for themselves well within their lifetime while producing clean energy. As energy prices continue to rise, the return on investment will also improve.

What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?

Solar is one of the best ways to decrease your carbon footprint. The Midwest is powered largely with coal, so each kWh produced from a solar system essentially saves one pound of coal from being burned. A solar electric system will offset the energy to produce the modules in less than 3 years – that means truly clean energy for the remaining life of the system over the next 25+ years!

How do I know what size solar electric system I need?

Your best starting point is to determine how many kilowatt hours (kWhs) your home used in each of the previous 12 months. With this, we can compare expected monthly solar energy production to your electricity usage. Annual electricity usage total is also a good start. You’ll find your monthly kWh records via paper copies of your utility bills, a phone call to your utility provider, or through your online utility account.

What is the best location for a solar array?

A south-facing area that gets sun from approximately 9 am to 3 pm is best. Solar systems also work well even when facing west or east, if that’s your best option. We can mount the systems on the majority of roof types, including a variety of materials used on pitched and flat roofs. Systems can also be ground-mounted.

How long do the systems work and how durable are they?

Solar electric systems are designed last more than 25 years.  Many solar electric systems from the 1970s and 1980s are still functioning today. Solar electric systems need very little maintenance and have a long functioning life. The solar electric panels themselves have a 25-year production warranty and will sustain 1-inch hail impact at 50 mph.

For Home
Will it be harder to sell my house and will my property taxes increase?

Recent studies have shown that solar homes sell faster and for more than equivalent homes. It is a good idea to ensure that your realtor is educated on the benefits of solar energy.

Will solar panels cause my roof to leak or deteriorate?

Rooftop solar installations have secure, leak-proof attachments or ballasted systems designed to withstand local wind forces.  Dispersed roof loads of solar energy systems are quite low, generally 2-3 pounds per square foot.  StraightUp Solar is also proud to offer an industry-leading 10-year workmanship warranty to give you peace of mind in your new clean energy investment.

What are my solar financing options?

StraightUp Solar offers a selection of secured and unsecured loans and financing options and can help guide you through the selection process.

Can I estimate my solar savings?

Yes! Use our solar savings calculator here.

Commercial & Industrial
Impact on Property Assessment

Illinois offers a special property tax assessment for solar. The alternative valuation will be the lesser of two values: the value of a conventional heating and cooling system, or the value of the solar energy system, whichever is less. Missouri’s property tax exemption for solar states that solar energy systems not held for resale are exempt from all state, local, and county property taxes.

What equipment vendors do you work with?

StraightUp Solar works with a variety of top-tier solar energy equipment vendors. A portion of our solar components are sourced through our Amicus Solar Cooperative partnership, which allows us to obtain high-quality components with cost savings achieved through quantity.

Agricultural
What are the mounting options for a solar PV array at our farm?

You will have several mounting options for a solar array at your farm. We install on pitched asphalt and metal roofs, flat roofs, even buildings with a curved roof such as those commonly found in agricultural settings. You may find that a ground mount is an attractive option, provided we can help you determine whether you have adequate ground space for a solar array.

How long is the installation process from concept to activation?

The typical timeline from contract signature to solar energy production is generally between 2-4 months, depending on the complexity of interconnection with your local utility.

How do I protect my array from livestock?

Oftentimes we will locate your array in an area where livestock will not interact with it often, in order to reduce the risk of damage by livestock to your array.

How involved in the REAP application process?

The REAP grant application process does involve paperwork, which is easier to manage if your business’ paperwork is already in good order. However, you will need to locate and pull the required records. Allow at least one month preparation time to organize and gather your files, submit them to the grant writer, and allow time for processing.

How long should it take to see a return on investment?

Many agricultural operations will have their entire investment paid back within 5 years.

Government & Non-profit
What tax benefits are we eligible for?

Tax-exempt organizations are not eligible to use solar tax benefits such as the 30% Federal Tax Credit or MACRS depreciation.

How do tax-exempt entities typically fund a solar project?

Tax-exempt entities may indirectly realize the savings of solar tax benefits by partnering with a for-profit third party who can purchase the solar equipment and perform the installation on behalf of your organization. Learn more about third-party financing for tax-exempt organizations by visiting our Government/Nonprofit Financing section.

Are there other ways to finance a project?

Aside from a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or Lease through StraightUp Solar and our financing partner, your tax-exempt organization could also form a single-purpose business entity, usually in the form of an LLC. Tax benefits for the solar array, chiefly the 30% Federal Tax Credit and MACRS depreciation, would trickle down to the members of the LLC. Filing for an LLC will require legal expertise and approximately $1,000 in filing fees.

How can I teach my community or my students about solar energy?

StraightUp Solar is dedicated to fulfilling our CLEARE values, which include “Educate the Solar Lesson.” Please contact us to arrange an educational presentation for your organization or school.

Shared Solar
What is shared solar and how is this different from rooftop solar?

A community shared solar array is a single array that provides solar energy to multiple subscribers. Community shared solar is contrasted to the typical rooftop solar array, in which one solar array provides solar energy to a single energy user. Virtual net metering is the billing arrangement that allows energy users to subscribe to community shared solar arrays and receive bill credits.

Is shared community solar available in my community?

llinois has recently enacted a law that creates an opportunity for community solar to be developed and utilized, starting in 2018.

What happens to my community solar subscription if I move or have to cancel?

According to Illinois law, subscriptions to community shared solar arrays will be both transferable and portable within the same utility service territory, however the rules of the law pertaining to transfer fees have not yet been released at this time (August 2017).

How will it appear on my electric bill?

The value of the energy produced by the community shared solar array will be credited on the electric bills of the subscribers of the facility using the Virtual Net Metering arrangement. More details will soon become available on how individual utilities will represent credits for virtually net metered solar energy production.

Solar Group Buy
Can a solar group buy be leveraged as a fundraiser for our organization?

Yes, a solar group buy program can be used to raise funds for your organization. A common model for fundraising with a solar group buy is to pre-designate a donation amount for each kilowatt (KW) of solar that is installed within the group buy program. Learn more about our fundraising opportunities for Nonprofits.

Is there a minimum level of participation for our community to realize savings?

A solar group buy will allow your community to save on solar with no minimum for participation. We’d like your solar group buy to have a certain goal in mind, and will work with your organization to set specific reward levels to encourage community participation. Generally, we scale these goals according to the size of your community.  

What is the time commitment for our community to participate in a group buy?

Solar group buys can run for as much or as little time as your community would prefer and time commitment to adequately promote the program depends on the size and range of your community group. For a mid-size town, we’d recommend a 4 month program with educational meetings every other week for the first 3 months.

Does running a solar group buy program cost our organization/community money?

Depending on the exact design of the program, administration and promotion may be funded by a grant or by a fee paid by the installation partner selected by your organization.

Will our organization be liable for issues that may arise?

Your organization will not be liable for installation quality issues. StraightUp Solar is a fully insured and bonded local business and each installation entails a contract between the specific home or business owner and our company.

Solar For All
What is the Solar For All Program?

The Solar for All program is a special aspect of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act passed in December 2016. The Solar for All program is a job training and solar deployment initiative intended to bring the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy to income-qualified communities throughout Illinois.

Where can I find more information about the Illinois Solar for All program?

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, the Sierra Club, and many more organizations throughout the state are currently leading the development of Solar for All program details and outreach to local communities. More can be found on the Solar for All program at IL Clean Jobs Coalition fact sheet.

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