Solar Panels on Garages to Serve Common House Redux

Common House 2013-07-03


The Common House Committee would like to install a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system on the south-facing roofs of two garage banks to provide low-emission, renewable electricity for the Great Oak Common House.


Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems are a well-understood, technically straightforward way of producing electricity. Until recently, the cost of the PV modules was too high to make them cost effective.

Prices have come down and we have a time-limited opportunity to install PV to provide the GO Common House with low-emission, renewable electricity at a reasonable cost.

Back in 2011, the community passed an agreement, to do exactly this, however at that time we were depending on a utility company subsidy to keep costs low, which unfortunately ran out of money before we could install the system.

This time, even without that subsidy, the cost is lower for the same capacity!


The CH Committee will install solar panels on the south-facing garage roofs and/or common house roof using a Finance Cmtee approved loan from the Reserve Fund. This will offset electrical consumption of the Common House.


GO gets local, clean energy with no increase in association fees

Contributes a sustainable energy installation to the community, state and world, reducing demand on expensive, polluting and unsustainable resources

When the system is "paid back" the community gets renewable, non-polluting energy for free from then on!

Shows the commitment to sustainability the community wishes to embrace

Sunward installed a smaller system on their CH and have seen it perform better than expected!

Takes advantage of a Federal initiative

No increase in association fees or reserve fund contribution due to this project!

The GO reserve fund earns 3% on an investment that directly benefits the community

Any damage will be covered by our existing Master insurance policy


introduction of sealed holes in the roof decrease its integrity, though the included, proper, warrantied sealing should mitigate any problems

the payback period is dependent on the performance of the system which is based on many factors beyond local control like the weather and the price of electricity

More information

GO will own the system upon installation and then perpetually.

A full one-third of the system cost will be paid for by a Federal Government tax credit over 4 tax years.

The system lifetime is warrantied to be 25 years. There are no moving parts in the installation and all system components will be installed in weather-proof enclosures on the exterior of the two garage banks and the common house. They generally last 30 to 35 years.

The solar panels will offset the CH electricity usage, DTE will pay GO monthly $0.11 (or the prevailing rate) per kwh for any excess production not used by the CH -- this will appear as a credit to our GO Common House electricity bill.

We will pay for this system using a loan from the GO Reserve fund. This means that there will be NO increase to association fees or reserve fund contribution for this project.

The CH will continue to pay full electrical cost - the reduced portion to DTE and the savings to the Reserve fund until the loan is paid off. The monthly DTE bill will be paid as usual and the Reserve loan will be paid once a year in December as the fiscal year closes up.

We anticipate this loan payment being made on an annual basis, in December, of $3600 (after the first partial year.). The solar credit may come in low, or high for the year. If low then the CH will still pay $3600 and will be overbudget on that line item (which is no different than if it were a hot year). If the solar credit comes in higher than expected then the CH will pay ahead on the loan and reduce the payback time! It is much more likely that the solar credit will be higher than anticipated.

Given the reserve fund anticipated expenditure rate and balance, there is no impact to the cash flow due to this loan that F&L can see.

No association fees or reserve fees will increase because of this.

There is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list at


No Blocks, No stands-aside