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Subject: Solar project for common area
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Author Messages
MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/03/2021 11:58 PM  
We're considering installing solar on our condos' roofs to reduce the HOA's energy bills.

For those who have already done this...

1. All in all, are you glad you did the project?

2. Did you employ a project management firm to create specs/and or collect bids?

3. How many vendors bid on the project?

4. What benefits did you expect to get from installing solar?

5. Did those benefits materialize?

6. Were there any problems that came up during installation or in the
time since the install?

7. If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?


LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/04/2021 7:22 AM  
You mention the HOA's energy bills, does the HOA pay a group rate for each units energy costs or does each unit pay their bill individually? I don't see how you want to put up solar for just the HOA's cost unless you have covered parking. This is becoming the thing here in southern Nevada to install solar on covered parking.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 8:53 AM  
You would be creating a capital improvement which probably means you need membership approval to proceed.
MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/04/2021 9:56 AM  
Our complex is two condo buildings and one clubhouse. We would be putting the panels on the condo buildings. Each unit has its own separate usage. The project is just for the common area electricity.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 10:05 AM  
How is being paid for?
MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/04/2021 10:24 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 11/04/2021 10:05 AM
How is being paid for?




The plan is to use operation funds for the down payment, possibly borrowing from reserves. The rest would be in the form of a loan.

There is a company offering a Power Purchase Agreement where they own the panels for a little over 5 years, allowing them to take advantage of a tax credit not available to HOAs. They would then split the profit with us which would give us a net discount on the total cost.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 10:39 AM  
Are you planning on getting membership approval?
MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/04/2021 10:40 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 11/04/2021 10:39 AM
Are you planning on getting membership approval?




Yes.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 12:19 PM  
My answer to your question would be, I wouldn't recommend to any association I manage and I live in California....well part time
MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/04/2021 1:05 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 11/04/2021 12:19 PM
My answer to your question would be, I wouldn't recommend to any association I manage and I live in California....well part time




What kind of risks would we be facing?

The idea is to make fixed interest payments that are no higher than our current monthly electrical bill.
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


11/04/2021 1:10 PM  
I would vet any company before entering into an agreement like that.

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/04/2021 1:34 PM  
Agree with Tim.

So unit owners pay for their own electricity, correct? So the common area electricity in the buildings is what? Elevators?

Does the Clubhouse get so much use that the electric bill for it is a problem? When it's used, is AC usually or always running?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/04/2021 1:52 PM  
Personally I am very leery of many companies selling solar power. I would question and want proof of anything they say, especially cost, pay back, length of contract, responsibility for any roof damage caused by their system. Basically. I do not trust the business.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 2:02 PM  
Mike

I have done my research on solar and from my analysis and the size of complexes I deal with, it was not financially prudent. If you are placing on an owner's roof, there could be additional expenses and potential damage.

That was my opinion.

The same held true in determining whether associations that weren't sub-metered for water usage. The numbers didn't make it a sound business decision. If the community was already sub-metered from the beginning, that would have been preferable.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/04/2021 3:57 PM  
Sounds like someone trying to sell you a bill of goods despite acknowledging it's an HOA. This would make more sense if the HOA was paying the electric bills for every member. However, this doesn't sound like the case. I don't believe anyone would like their dues go toward paying other's bills if they don't use as much electricity.

Yes, I am not against solar power. Matter fact would like to do it myself. However, that is the key word here. MYSELF. A HOA is a GROUP of owners. The HOA is better off allowing/permitting owners to do their own options if available. However, doing it for whole group of people not necessarily beneficial.

Former HOA President
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 4:02 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 11/04/2021 3:57 PM
Sounds like someone trying to sell you a bill of goods despite acknowledging it's an HOA. This would make more sense if the HOA was paying the electric bills for every member. However, this doesn't sound like the case. I don't believe anyone would like their dues go toward paying other's bills if they don't use as much electricity.

Yes, I am not against solar power. Matter fact would like to do it myself. However, that is the key word here. MYSELF. A HOA is a GROUP of owners. The HOA is better off allowing/permitting owners to do their own options if available. However, doing it for whole group of people not necessarily beneficial.



You're lost again.

The solar project would be for what the HOA spend in the common area. The owners have their own meters and pay their own bills.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/04/2021 4:07 PM  
Exactly Max. What benefit would it have for the individual owners to install it if they don't use it? They pay their own bills. What electric bill do they share on common property that would justify such a project? I mean does the HOA pay several hundred dollars a month on common property? Is there a pool? Clubhouse? Elevators? What actual power bill is the HOA paying directly that solar would save on? The owner's are not if they have to pay higher dues or special assessments.

Former HOA President
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/04/2021 4:28 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 11/04/2021 4:07 PM
Exactly Max. What benefit would it have for the individual owners to install it if they don't use it? They pay their own bills. What electric bill do they share on common property that would justify such a project? I mean does the HOA pay several hundred dollars a month on common property? Is there a pool? Clubhouse? Elevators? What actual power bill is the HOA paying directly that solar would save on? The owner's are not if they have to pay higher dues or special assessments.



My association's common area's electric bill per month was $4000.00. For one, running six pool pumps ain't cheap. Our complex was 100 acres using a ton of electricity. A condo with two buildings and a clubhouse, IMO, doesn't justify the expense.

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/04/2021 5:28 PM  
Max's concerns are why I asked the OP if the buildings have have elevators. And if the clubhouse is used so much the AC runs all the time? Ot "clubhouse" includes pool? In other words, MikeH, what are your HOA's electricity expenses?

Meantime, sorry I can't help with your questions, Mike. We have two condo towers & there's too much other equipment on their roofs to situate a solar system properly. On this forum, I don't think we've heard from HOA folk who've installed solar on their common areas.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/04/2021 8:38 PM  
Posted By MikeH24 on 11/04/2021 9:56 AM
Our complex is two condo buildings and one clubhouse. We would be putting the panels on the condo buildings. Each unit has its own separate usage. The project is just for the common area electricity.





Then you put the panels on the clubhouse not each building. if you put panels on each building you will have the owners screeching they want to tap into the panels for personal use.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/04/2021 8:48 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 11/04/2021 1:52 PM
Personally I am very leery of many companies selling solar power. I would question and want proof of anything they say, especially cost, pay back, length of contract, responsibility for any roof damage caused by their system. Basically. I do not trust the business.




My wife and I has solar installed this past May, we went through a solar provider from the membership club that begins with a C. Almost immediately I noticed a significant drop in my power bill, granted the total
cost starting up in the late spring compared to early fall I wasn't able to bank the net metering credits yet. I did not notice a real drop in payments to my utility until the last two months, the other day I received my
biil, and it was for $13.00 That is where I bottom out, meaning this is the minimum fee I pay to my utility, the rest I am earning net metering credits from my PV system. Right now I am paying between the PV
provider and my utility the same as I would for a normal "winter" non AC use bill. My PV system produces about 22kv a day and I am eating net metering credits to my energy provider bill. There will be a carryover
from now on so the $13 will be my obligation to the energy provider from now on, and I pay a small amount to the PV provider.


MikeH24
(California)

Posts:19


11/05/2021 1:27 AM  
I feel like I've managed to introduce more complexity into this discussion.


Max,

What was the range of sizes of the community for which you did the analyses, and what years did you do them?


Kerry and Melissa,

On paper we are supposed to be a good candidate for HOA-run solar. Our common-area usage is above 140kW. We have more than 100 units in each of our two 4-story buildings, so that's four elevators, two lit parking garages, and a lot of lit hallways. The clubhouse has HVAC on a timer and a big TV. We have a pool and hot tub.

Let,

The clubhouse doesn't have the surface area to provide for all our needs. The only screeching has been from owners on the 4th floor with covers on their balconies that face the sun (only some balconies have covers). Those owners may be able to get some supplemental generation for their units.


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