Solar Energy Panels in Arizona…why don't we see more of them?

solar-panelsAccording to the Arizona Republic, First Solar Inc., a Tempe based company has just signed a deal with SolarCity to enough panels to install them on 25,000 homes in the next year.  Solar panels for energy is not a new concept, but one that will hopefully be more utilized with the increasing energy issues in the country. 

I for one have always wondered why I don’t see many energy panels on homes (including my own) in the Valley of the SUN.  This would seem to be a no brainer…except for the fact that the panels are generally large and unsightly and quite costly to install.  I know there are roof tiles available with itty bitty solar panels built into the tile, but these are even more expensive and most homeowners feel they would have to live in the home for years before realizing a savings after the investment.  Probably true.

First Solar, however, is now going to offer a lease program on the panels (the big panels, not the itty bitty ones) with, according to their website, an initial deposit of $1000.  The company says with the initial deposit, monthly lease and lower energy bills, most customers would realize an energy savings. 

I’m all for “going green” and think anything we can do to stop polluting good ole mother is is a good thing.  So, I threw my figures into SolarCity’s energy calculator to see what my savings would be with the current electric company costs.  According to their calculator, it would actually cost me $3 a month more than I’m paying for electricity now.  I don’t think that’s going to sell me on the panels right now.  Maybe I’m not as “green” as I would like to be.


  1. There is a federal energy bill that includes a tax credit for up to thirty percent of the initial cost of home solar panels. Eco

  2. I’m not sure how much good a solar panel would do me up here in the Seattle area…


  3. No solar panel for you Dominique…you have to harness that rainwater energy.

  4. Indeed, Arizona by all accounts is lagging behind its neighbour California. But there are some interesting developments being made there. The potential for Arizona solar power is immense. Arizona has enough all year sunshine to power the entire country.

  5. I’d love to see Arizona become the leader in solar energy use!

  6. Jim Stack says:

    There wasn’t any incentives or net-metering in Arizona when I installed my grid tied solar system. It still oaid for itself in 7 years.

    Now we get about 50% off from the SRP or APS incentive, get a state incentive of $1,000 and another 30% incentive off your taxes at the Federal level. We also have more clear sunny days that just about anyplace in the world let alone the USA. A solar system returns about5% to 10% depending on your use and situation. That’s better than real estate , band CD’s or the stock market.

    Also the utilities were allowed to request rate hikes again after being held at no raises from all the money they got for nuclear and hydro power. Ever since they were allowed they have requested 16-20% and we are getting closer to the real cost.

    AZ still gets over 50% of our electric from dirty coal burning plants that are also subsidized and 20% from nuclear which is the most subsidiezed power in the world. They also built mostly natural gas plants for peaking durong the days and the fuel costs have spiked since we now import a lot from Canada who is also running low on NG.

    Check the water use of coal, nuclear and natural gas. It big and we live in a desert. They have over 60 tons of nuclear waste stored at palo verde with no place to go and it will have to be secured for thousands of years.

    What do I know. I teach a class on solar energy at 2 local colleges, I live in a grid tied solar home that makes more that I use so I get credits each month. I have friends who now build zero energy homes for the same price as a normal wasteful leaky home.

    You just have to learn the complete story, do smarter things and go GREEN, That’s the money you save by being green. It creates local jobs too. Just look at First Solar here in Phoenix, Solon in Tucson and installation companies like American Solar Electric in Scottsdale , Dependable solar and My Solar in Awatuki. They can put a system in for you and do all the paerwork for the incentives.


  7. Wow! Thanks Jim, for that great info! Education definitely impacts that decision and I thank you so much for sharing! My daughter received her Environmental Engineering Degree from Rice University when I forward this info to her, you’ll probably hear her cheer all the way from Houston!


  9. Sorry Robbie, I don’t. I would try Googling it. Good luck!

  10. We’re beginning to see lots of solar panels cropping up in Sarasota Floridfa as well. Are there any zoning or building codes issues with their placement in your area ?
    Visit my Sarasota Florida real estate blog when you get a chance. it’s at

  11. Boy are we seeing solar panels everywhere we look. Some are well-placed and not unslightly but others just make the community look really tacky

  12. Solar and wind energy are becoming headline items here in the Phoenix area. It makes so much sense here in the Valley of the SUN! I agree that those big panels on the roofs are unsightly, however but then, so were TV antennae which no one seemed to notice when everyone had one. Once they become more mainstream it probably won’t look so weird.

    Rich, I don’t know of any zoning issues outside of getting HOA approval.

    Thanks for writing!