Report: Solar savings through a SolarCity residential system

Having limited winter daylight hours combined with snow covered rooftops doesn’t make for good check out my huge solar savings conversation this month. But putting that aside, the overall economics behind my solar system tells a far greater story.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that my journey with installing a SolarCity system dates back to late 2014. My system consists of 69 panels at 255W each for a total of 17.6kW (more specs on the system can be found on my Solar Generation page).

Solar Pricing

Massachusetts Electricity prices having been rising at approximately 9.5% year-over-year since 2008. When I started with SolarCity, my electricity price was set at $0.1627 per kWh including delivery, supply and taxes. Prices have continued to climb as seen on this chart.

The state went through a fun over-inflation and correction period in 2015, but the current rate I’m paying for electric is $0.1906 kWh with the best supplier I can find.

SolarCity sets their Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) prices based on your current electricity usage and comparable rates for the area that’s receiving their solar system. I had a number of options when I signed up including a variable rate, a fixed rate and an outright purchase but ended up opting for a 20-year fixed rate plan at $0.1420 kWh.

The way the PPA plan works is that I pay $0.1420 for every kWh generated by the SolarCity panels. The kWh they generate offsets the electricity I would consume. My savings initially worked out to be a difference of $0.0207 kWh or approximately 13% less. Recent savings have been in the $0.0486 kWh mark, or 25%, helped by the rise in electricity rates from utilities.

I incurred no installation or service costs when first setting up my SolarCity system, hence my entire cost for set up is based on the amount of power generated at $0.1420 kWh.

Affiliate: Get a solar cost estimate and find out how much solar can save for your home and business in your area.

Solar Costs

In the last 22 months, I’ve generated a whopping 33.8 MWh (33,800 kWh) of power. My cost for that was $4,800. The SolarCity bill will fluctuate depending on the amount of daylight hour and weather conditions.

In that same period, my electric company reported that I used 23,800 kWh of power. Since the solar power offsets that amount, my actual power use for those 22 months was 57,600 kWh — I use a lot of power between my Tesla, pool, A/C and other electronics we have throughout the house.

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About 59% of the power I need for my house and my Tesla comes from my SolarCity system. I wanted a system that could cover 100% of my needs but National Grid (local electric company) blocked that.

For the 23,800 kWh I purchased from the electric company, I paid $4,595, or $0.1930 kWh (averaged over the 22 months). My total electric cost (money paid to electric company and to SolarCity) for the 22 months was $9,395 or about $427/month.

While I consume a lot of power, 59% of it is provided by the sun.

Solar Savings

When I first signed up with SolarCity, they provided a $1,000 bonus if you registered for a solar system after buying a Tesla. That’s what I did and that’s how I received my $1,000 check form SolarCity.

They also had a referral program at the time which credited you with $250 for each person that signed up for a new system. I managed to get one referral and one more check from SolarCity.

All in all, I started 22 months ago with no money down and $1,250 in my pocket and a nice new solar system on my house. Not a bad start!

Had I purchased all my power from my electricity company at the average of $0.1930 kWh it would have cost me a total of $11,117. But thanks to SolarCity, my total cost was $9,395, so my savings was $1,722 over the 22 months. I expect savings and solar benefits will continue to grow over the next 20 years as the electric company continues to raise their rates.

SolarCity doesn’t fully capture the amount of  savings that can be had through their system since the initial quote is based on current electricity rates, at the time of the quote. Rates climb over time especially in dense urban areas.

My savings thus far has been more than twice the amount SolarCity originally outlined! Now, if we add in the referral checks, my savings goes up to $2,972. The referrals don’t necessarily scale over time and may get updated so that needs to be factored into the equation.


For no money down and no risk, I’ve saved about $3,000 in just under 2 years (27% of what I would have paid) while generating green energy and taking load away from an already overloaded power grid.

When I did the math before signing up I knew the system would be a good deal and I’m very happy to see the results proving out. Since I’m on the power purchase program, I don’t have to worry about equipment depreciation, loss in solar cell effectiveness over time (I only pay for what they generate) or a whole slew of other things. By the time my plan is up, much better systems will be available.

If you’re interested in exploring solar power for your house and have enjoyed my posts thus far, please consider using my referral link to get started. SolarCity will do a free analysis of your situation and let you know if a solar system may work for you:

May the Sun be with you!

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