1. Do you have experience installing solar in my area?
Every community is different. The permits, building and fire codes are different from community to community, you want to make sure that your installer has the experience and knowledge about your area before installing. If your installation doesn’t meet the local building code you could be required to make modifications to your system that could become very costly.
2. Is my roof solar ready?
If you are planning on installing rooftop solar you will want to make sure you have at least 10 years of life left in it. Your solar company should do an inspection of your roof prior to installation, if they feel it doesn’t have enough life left in it you may be asked to replace it prior to installation.
3. How many systems has your company installed?
Since solar prices have dropped, installations have soared. You want to make sure that you are hiring a reputable dealer/installation team. Treat this the same way you would any other home improvement project in your home.
4. Is there a warranty?
Most solar panels on the market are high quality and guarantee an output of no less than 90% after 10 years and 80% after 25 years of use.
5. How many kilowatt hours should the system produce in the first year?
This is one of the more important questions you should be asking when comparing solar power systems. You want to know what you should expect from the panels. When you are comparing brands, look at the warranty’s first and the output next. The one with the best warranty and greatest output of energy is the one you want to go with.
6. Are their rebates or incentives in my area?
Ask about rebates or incentives that are offered by the utility company, see if it can help reduce the out of pocket costs for your solar system installation. Don’t forget to see if there are any tax breaks.
Thunder Valley CDC is an organization that was founded by young people with young families. They started out by taking youth to sacred sites, creating engaging activities and educating them on how to run their own businesses. Thunder Valley has now evolved their organization into designing and building a Regenerative Community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Their mission is to launch a program to ensure that they are not only building a community, but are building the capacity and opportunities to be available to the people that live within the new community.
Part of Thunder Valley’s plan is to build affordable, energy efficient homes and to work with families to help them navigate the process of home ownership. “The goal of this development is to produce one hundred percent of the energy needed for the community,” said Thunder Valley Executive Director Nick Tilsen. “And if we’re going to walk our talk and if we’re going to live our indigenous values, then we need to be creating energy systems that have less of a negative impact on the environment.”
GenPro was fortunate to partner with Thunder Valley on the implementation of solar panels into the new community. The renewable energy experts from GenPro taught roughly 20 individuals with Thunder Valley how to install solar panels so that not only are they on the right track to producing clean energy, they are also learning a valuable trade that they can use in future solar installations in the new community.
“This solar installation is kind of like the cross–section of everything that Thunder Valley is about,” said Tilsen. “It helps reduce energy costs for families. It helps create some training opportunities and potentially some jobs for local people here in the community and this is a way to not just talk about our relationship to the earth and protecting Mother Earth but it's a way to take action.”
GenPro looks forward to continuing an ongoing partnership with Thunder Valley CDC.
Huntington, Stewart. “Thunder Valley making big move into solar energy.” Article. Kota TV. 19 April 2017.