Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Tough Economic Times, Going Green Is Still Possible

Sure, you want to go green. You’d really like to install solar panels on your brownstone, but you’re a little wary of the price. But did you know that you could get a rebate, tax credits and a property tax abatement? That’s where Rob Ashmore comes in.

He’s the founder of Aeon Solar, a company that installs solar panels in New York, New Jersey, California and Colorado. And if you want to get panels for your home or business, Ashmore will take care of everything for you.

One of his clients is Rolf Grimsted, who runs the mom-and-pop realty company R & E Brooklyn, with his wife. When retrofitting his property at 93 Nevins St. in Boerum Hill, he wanted to make it “what we thought the new urban home should be,” which was as green as possible.

The building (right) is made up of two townhouses, both of which Ashmore fitted with solar panels. “It was one of the first green choices we made,” Grimsted said. The building has good southern exposure, he explained, which makes it “well-situated” for solar power.

Grimsted also installed radiant heating in the floors and sourced as many of the materials as locally as possible. The townhouses have health benefits from the clean filtered air in the building. It’s so healthy that the American Lung Association awarded it Health House certification.

Ashmore explained that the original cost for two solar panel systems was $27,000 each. New York state offers a rebate at a rate of $4 per watt for the first 5,000 watts and $3 per watt for the next 5,000 watts. Since these systems were 2,700 watts each, the rebate was $10,800 per system, making the after-rebate cost of each system $16,200. Grimsted then got a state tax credit of 25 percent, or $4,050, per system. After subtracting that from the after-rebate cost ($12,150), he got a federal tax credit of $3,645, or 30 percent.

The rebate and tax credits took the cost of each solar panel system down to $8,505. But the incentives don’t stop there, Ashmore said. Grimsted then gets a property tax abatement of 35 percent or $2,976.75, split up over the next four years. So each year, he will have a property tax abatement of around $744, making the actual cost of each system to be about $5,528.

And that doesn’t even include the money saved on each townhouse’s electric bill over the next 30 years. Ashmore said the electric bill will be about $75 less per month, per system.

Aeon Solar’s next project is installing solar panels on a brownstone on Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights. This system costs $70,000, and after the rebate, tax credits and property tax abatement, the end cost will be $16,640, Ashmore said. “The savings on their Con Ed bill will eat away at that cost, typically in about five years,” he added. After that, “All the power that system produces is free.”

So, as it turns out, it pays to be green.

Photo courtesy of R & E Brooklyn

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