Please Consider Going Solar: Some good news about my solar system

by Dr. Marc Futernick

In my area, switching to solar also means switching to annual billing. I get a statement every 2 months, but I only pay once a year when my net usage for 12 months is calculated. I want to share with you all how much I paid for my energy over the past 12 months. As background, my panels are now 5 years old, and I am on track to recover the entire investment in savings in the next year and half.

There are base charges just to have an account with the energy company. My charge is about $9/month. I also pay an extra flat fee every month as a solar customer – $4.50. When energy is delivered to our homes, there is a distribution fee. I only pay this on the incoming energy. That total for the entire year was $20. I also opt to pay to have Green Power, which means when I do use grid energy, it is generated from renewable sources. (Most places have this option, which I encourage you to choose even if going solar is not right for you.) My extra fee for using Green Power for the year was $9.50. I hope the anticipation is building for how much I actually paid to power my home, and both of our electric cars, for an entire year!

But first, how much energy are we talking about? Over the course of the year, my panels generated a total of 15,331 kWhs of energy. This covered 99.5% of my energy needs. I used an additional 75 kWhs for the entire year, which cost me – $8.46.

Including all the standard fees, and taxes, and the fee for using 100% Green Power, my total power bill was $232 for an entire year, less than $20/month.

I paid a lot for my panels 5 years ago, but in 1.5 more years I will have recovered all of that in savings, and because I have a 25 year warranty, I will likely pay about $20.00 a month for energy for the next 20 years. My rooftop system has generated over 70 MegaWatts of clean energy over its lifetime. Sounds like a lot to me.

We dont think about this aspect enough, but the fossil fuel infrastructure is poisoning our neighbors in poorer communities every day. By transitioning away from fossil fuels, we can shut down these monster polluters, and our children can breathe clean air. Why should kids living near the ports of LA and other concentrations of pollution suffer with asthma and higher rates of cancer? I believe we have a moral imperative to make this change, right now. Every solar panel installation helps us stop the environmental injustice currently ravaging our communities.

When you look at all these factors, I think every individual and organization should seriously and earnestly consider if solar energy is right for them, taking into account its financial rewards, benefits for the environment, and also as a moral stance for a more equitable world.


Dr. Futernick is a practicing emergency physician at California Hospital. He graduated from medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine and completed residency at University of California San Francisco, Fresno. Dr. Futernick is board certified in emergency medicine and is a current Director of California ACEP. Dr. Futernick is also a current Steering Committee member of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health.