Solar electricity investment can ease your retirement worries

Solar electricity investment can ease your retirement worriesIf you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation, you are looking forward to retiring sometime in the near future, if you haven’t already. Many Boomers rely on savings and investments to cover the cost of their retirement years. The challenge is to have enough money to maintain month-to-month financial stability when the price of goods and services fluctuates. Gaining and maintaining control over the price you pay for goods and services will ensure that your retirement is worry-free.

Electricity prices are expected to rise

In New England, wide fluctuations in the cost of electricity make it virtually impossible to predict (and therefore budget for) the cost of each month’s electric bill. There are two main components to an electric bill aside from taxes and fees: The cost for generation of electricity and the cost to transmit electricity. Electricity generation is accomplished by consuming fuels to drive turbines. Coal and natural gas are the most prevalent generation fuel sources, and the costs of extracting, refining and delivering them to power plants can fluctuate widely. Most often, the rise in consumer electricity prices is due to increases in the price of acquiring and transporting the generation fuels. These fuels are also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to negatively impact the environment.

New England utility prices soar in 2014

In New England in early 2014, electricity consumers paid a rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) that was an average of 11.8 percent higher than the rate one year earlier. The price for generation of electricity rose by more than 21 percent from the previous year’s price, due to increases in demand for natural gas to heat homes during the extremely bitter winter of 2014 and to the failure of some of the natural gas pipelines that feed New England’s utility grids. The extremely high demand for natural gas resulted in equally high withdrawals from the area’s natural gas storage tanks, reducing those reserves substantially. The increased cost of each of those factors was passed on to the consumer.

Trade fossil fuels for photovoltaic electricity generation

Fortunately for New England residents, a strong solar photovoltaic (PV) energy industry offers the best hedge against unpredictable future electricity prices.

Fixed price per kWh for 20 years: RGS Energy offers PV generated electricity at a fixed rate per kWh, which can be locked in for as long as 20 years. RGS can fix the rate because the cost for their energy-generation source — the sun — will never change. Solar radiance (the sunshine from which PV electricity is generated) isn’t owned or sold like other energy-generation fuels, so there is no cost associated with acquiring or transporting it. The costs associated with PV systems are for the equipment and connections necessary to alter the sun’s DC energy into the AC used in today’s homes. No fluctuation in generation costs means no fluctuation in consumer prices.

Potential income from PV power: Most retirees don’t have the opportunity to generate income in their later years. Depending on your local jurisdiction, a PV system can provide extra income by selling excess electricity to the utility company to be used by other consumers. The meter installed with the PV system runs both forward and backward — forward when the home is pulling electricity from the grid, and backward when using solar PV electricity. When the system generates more PV electricity than it can use, that excess is fed back into the grid system. Sometimes, the excess value is reflected as a credit on the system owner’s electric bill, which will be applied to reduce the bill amount in future months. As a result, PV-owning homeowners are saving money on their electric bill and perhaps also generating income with their PV system.

No more environmental impact: Retirees often have families that include children, grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren. Concern for their future health and welfare influences long-term will and estate planning. Accessing PV electricity offers another way to connect with your younger family members by reducing your current impact on their future environment. Each year, millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere, a large percentage of which was generated by fossil-fuel-burning electricity-generation plants. By taking your home off that grid (or reducing your reliance on it), you can reduce your contribution to that greenhouse gas noxious cloud. You’ll leave a cleaner atmosphere and environment for your children’s children to enjoy, and your investment in solar may provide them with electricity for years, too.

Retirement should be a time of worry-free indulgence in your personal passions and preferences. A PV system will ensure a low fixed cost for your electricity for at least the first 20 years. Now that is something to look forward to.

To learn more about installing a solar power system in your retirement home, visit

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