Steve D’Angelo’s rooftop solar panels at his house on Widow Gavitt’s Road in Sag Harbor. Photo by Steve D’Angelo.
By Mara Certic
When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Steve D’Angelo was looking for a way to invest his money. Instead of putting it into stocks or hiding it under his mattress, he decided to put that money onto his roof.
Six years later, the 24 solar panels that he had installed on his 3,500-square-foot Sag Harbor house have already paid for themselves. “For me it was a long-term investment; I had money and I didn’t know where to put it,” he said. After reading about rebates from LIPA and Southampton Town, the decision to have Green Logic design and install solar panels for his house was a “no-brainer,” he said.
“I’m adding value to my house and I’m not paying as much outright every month,” he said. “It’s really not much different from a municipal bond to some extent, where you’re getting 2 percent or 3 percent on your money—it’s just a money move,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo explained that he thinks that solar is a hard sell out on the East End because of the large number of investment properties and second homes.
“At the time, I knew I was going to stay in my house until my kids were going to move out and they were around one at that time,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo paid around $19,000 out-of-pocket, he said, and got a state credit of $5,500, a LIPA rebate of $6,600 and also a rebate from Southampton Town.
“I ended up paying 50 percent of the actual installed cost,” after the various rebates, he said. “You know you’re going to be getting every cent back on that solar system because you’re going to use it every single day.”
“Every month I save on the average of $200 to $300. And during the wintertime my LIPA bill comes in at zero,” he said, explaining that the pool pump and the air conditioning that run all summer expend a lot of electricity. Last month, he said his bill was $228, before he got solar panels his June utility bill would have cost him around $460, he said.
“Green Logic have it down to the penny, they know exactly how much you’re going to save on an annual basis and then you can decide if it’s worth it,” he said. “They maximize your investment, they’re not just trying to cover your house in solar panels,” he said, adding that he had suggested putting solar panels on his garage, which Green Logic advised against.
The trick is, he said, you have to have the money up front to do it. “That’s why a lot of guys don’t do it, they’d rather go out and buy a car than put solar on their house,” he said.
Brian Kelly, owner of East End Tick and Mosquito Control, definitely has his eye on a new (electric) car in the future; but before he makes that investment he, like Mr. D’Angelo, decided to put some money into solar panels.
Around two months ago, Mr. Kelly had 48 250-watt solar panels installed onto the roof of his business headquarters in Southampton Village. “I’ve always liked the idea of solar, but I never thought it was in the cards for me,” he said on Tuesday. After meeting with Brian Tymann of BGT Consulting, LLC, who told him that his business had the “perfect roof for solar,” he realized it was time to act.
“I just said to myself, now’s really the time, and I just did it, it was a no-brainer. And I love it,” he said of his 12,000-kilowatt system. His meter spins backwards now, he said.
Mr. Kelly had a total out-of-pocket expense of $36,000 and is still waiting on a rebate from the Village of Southampton. He expects to recoup his costs in 10 years. “The one thing a lot of people don’t think about is that your electric bill is constantly rising. Over the next few years my $400-a-month bill could turn into $600. And that’s money I now won’t be paying.”
“It really makes sense. You do have an out-of-pocket layout and that’s tough for a lot of people. But they do have a lot of financial programs to help people out,” he said.
There’s no fear if one of his panels breaks, Mr. Kelly has a 20-year warranty on the solar panel array. He explained that each of the panels is separate and that a problem with one will not affect the other 23.
“And what’s really cool is that the guy who set it up for me put an app on my phone that can tell me all day long exactly how much energy I’m producing by the hour,” he said.
At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Mr. Kelly’s solar panels had produced 11.3 kilowatt hours of energy. Powering a light bulb for one month uses 9.6 kilowatts, he said. “Isn’t that so cool?”