116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Jim Bovinet had solar panels installed at his Cedar Rapids home in 2017 - and added even more in 2019.
'We wanted to do something environmentally friendly,” said Bovinet, 42. 'Plus, the tax credit was nice.”
The initial install took place over two afternoons, and Bovinet said the process went smoothly. Now that the panels are up, he doesn't notice them at all. They don't make any noise, and they're on the backside of his garage, where he rarely sees them.
One of the few hiccups he encountered was that his original homeowners insurance didn't insure solar panels, so he had to switch providers.
He also added more solar panels after he and his family bought an electric car and needed a boost in power, working with Moxie Solar to reconfigure the solar panels he already had and to add new ones.
Bovinet said, with the federal and state income tax credits he received, his home's solar installation cost under $20,000.
He was the first one in his neighborhood to add solar panels.
'Now, there are half a dozen others,” he said.
SOLAR COMPANY GROWTH
Moxie Solar, in North Liberty, was founded in 2008. It has grown exponentially since solar investment tax credits for homeowners were introduced in 2012, making solar installations more accessible to the average homeowner.
Today, Moxie works in 17 states.
Every week it sets up solar power for an average of 20 to 25 homes and three businesses. In Eastern Iowa, it's completed about 1,600 solar installations.
Chris Hoffman, 47, vice president of sales with Moxie Solar, said a lot has changed in regard to solar power over the past eight years.
'Back then, we were in educational mode, helping homeowners understand solar with few real examples to point to,” he said.
Hoffman, who also serves on the North Liberty City Council, said many customers see the investment pay for itself within seven to nine years.
Solar panels also typically come with a long warranty - Moxie Solar offers a 25-year warranty - which can cover the cost of repair or replacement after a severe weather event.
Homeowners insurance generally covers more extreme events, like the Aug. 10 derecho. Interestingly, Bovinet said the section of his roof holding his solar panels was the most protected during the derecho, taking the brunt of the wind.
Many people in the Cedar Rapids area, after the derecho left them in the dark for days if not weeks, called the Moxie office, hoping to find an alternative way to generate power.
Hoffman said if batteries are installed with a solar power setup, customers will continue to have power even if the electrical grid goes down.
For some people, he said, solar is more appealing than using a generator, which doesn't provide any benefits in-between power outages.
One important factor to consider before purchasing solar panels, Hoffman said, is the age of your roof. If it needs to be replaced soon, it's best to take care of that before installation.
Homeowners also should consider whether the amount of energy they use is going to change significantly in the near future, as it did for Bovinet when he bought an electric vehicle. Other life events, like kids leaving for college or having your parents move in, might change the amount of energy used in your home.
If you've decided to go for it, don't skimp on the number of panels, Bovinet advised.
'Put in the maximum amount your utility will allow because you can only take the state tax credit once,” he said.
The tax credits may continue to fluctuate over the years - the percentage of both the federal and state tax credits have decreased a little since they were first introduced - and solar technology will continue to evolve. The solar tax credits are now 26 percent at the federal level and 13 percent from the state of Iowa.
Hoffman said most of Moxie's customers, like Bovinet, choose to install solar panels for both environmental and financial reasons.
'The common thing they share is a desire to do their part for the environment,” he said.
Contact Moxie Solar in North Liberty by calling (855) 669-4387 or go online to moxiesolar.com.
Linn and Johnson counties are partnering with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to educate homeowners about solar power and offer a group buying program. Learn more at growsolar.org/linn-johnson-counties.