Solar energy can be a worthwhile investment

Solar power is an expensive technology, but it pays off immediately and for years, according to local experts who sell and install solar panels and equipment.

“If you get the correct system, it could reduce your power bill to zero,” said Tommy Blas, business developer for Pacific Solar & Photovoltaics, in Dededo.

The cost of power on Guam increased by 27 percent between 2011 and 2012, and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities this week approved another rate increase.

Residents will see an 8.3-percent increase in monthly power bills, businesses will see a 6.8-percent increase and government agencies will see a 7.8-percent increase, starting tomorrow.

A solar-energy system that produces about 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month costs as much as $36,000.

“But the investment is completely worth it. We have a customer in Merizo that only pays $15 for her monthly power bill,” Blas said.

There are a number of companies that provide solar energy systems on Guam.

Kore Solar Guam Inc. in Tamuning, Pacific Solar & Photovoltaics in Dededo, Solcom in Barrigada and Green Energy Solutions Inc. in Tamuning are just a few.

Companies that install solar systems have an agreement with the power agency called “net metering interconnection,” which allows customers to connect their solar system to the power grid, Blas said.

“By doing this, residents basically inject solar energy their systems produce into the power grid and it gives the home a sort of energy credit,” Blas said.

Haewon Bang, senior marketing manager for Kore Solar, said, “Say you produce 500 kilowatt-hours in a month that goes into the grid with solar energy. Basically, you will not begin to be charged for energy use by GPA until all that 500 kwh is used by your home. What you deposit into the system is credited to your home and only gets taken away when you use it.”

If the energy produced by your solar system completely offsets your power use, the only cost would be a $10 monthly fee for the meter, Bang said.

It’s also possible to build a solar-energy system slowly — a few panels at a time, according to Blas.

“By doing this you can reduce energy costs as you go, but also not have to pay the large price of doing it all at once,” he said.

By Armando Cordoba,