Who can participate?
Solarize Tybee is open to all residents, businesses, and governmental entities within Chatham County, provided the governing body in each jurisdiction does not object to having its citizens participate.
How does solar energy work?
Solar cells collect light and convert it into DC electricity. This DC electricity is converted into AC electricity through an inverter. The electricity is then transferred into the building so it can be used instantly or transferred onto the grid. Unless you have a battery backup system, the system will not function if the grid goes down.
How do I know if my site is suitable for solar?
The first step in the program is to sign up for a free site assessment (see the "Sign Up" tab above). Hannah Solar will pre-screen your site with an aerial/remote assessment. Solar works well on south-, southeast-, and southwest-facing roofs. There should be little or no shading from trees, buildings, chimneys or roof gables. If your roof is old or damaged, you may need to re-roof your home before installing solar. In some instances, an electrical upgrade may be needed if your home has older wiring. Hannah Solar will help you determine your site's suitability.
How much will this cost?
Cost will depend on several factors: the size of your system, the final tiered pricing (based on the number of participants), any customizations for your site, and whether you can take advantage of the federal tax credit. For instance, a 5 kW system at $2.95/watt (Tier 1 pricing) would cost $14,750. After the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $10,325. If the program reaches Tier 7, the same 5 kW system would cost $13,000 before the tax credit and $9100 after.
What additional costs might I need to consider?
If your roof is more than 25 feet above grade, there will be an extra charge (no more than $300) for a lift to install the panels. If your roof is older, you may want to consider replacing it before installing PV panels. You may need an electrical upgrade if your wiring is older. While the first year of maintenance is free, you may wish to purchase an annual maintenance agreement ($0.05/watt, minimum $200) in the future. For more information, see the Equipment List.
What kind of financing is available?
Hannah Solar partners with Dividend Solar to provide loans. Some financial institutions, such as Admirals Bank provide low-interest loans specifically for renewable energy projects. You can also check with your local bank about home improvement loans.
Note: The City of Tybee and the Tybee Community Resource Committee do not endorse a particular financial institution or loan program. Consult your financial adviser for options and solutions for your individual situation. Be sure to ask about any and all financing fees and terms.
What size system should I install?
Hannah Solar will be able to give you a more comprehensive assessment of your specific energy needs. The average size of a residential photovoltaic system in the U.S. is 5 kW. In Georgia, there is very little incentive to install a residential system that produces more energy than you can use. See "What is net metering?" below.
Will my system produce energy on cloudy days?
Yes, but it will  produce less. Depending on cloud coverage, your system may require a little more energy from the grid on cloudy days.
What is net metering?
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if your system generates more electricity that you use during daylight hours, the meter will run backwards to provide a credit against the electricity you consume at night. You are only billed for your "net" energy use (adapted from SEIA). Georgia Power does not offer true 1:1 net metering; instead, their RNR tarrif currently pays only $0.04375/kWh for your unused energy.
Will I still receive a monthly electric bill?
Yes, you will still receive a monthly bill from Georgia Power for your meter and for any energy you use to supplement your solar array. The meter charge is a fixed rate (currently $2.82/month), and the energy charge depends on how much electricity you use and your rate plan.
What is the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI)?
Under this initiative, Georgia Power agrees to purchase your power at a fixed rate ($0.13/kWh) for 20 years. Application is held once a year in March and because of great interest, there is usually a lottery process to award the contracts. There are proposed changes to this program that may favor large-scale installations over smaller, residential ones.
Can I benefit from the federal tax incentive?
A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer. (After 2016, the residential tax credit will expire and the commercial credit will drop to 10%). Second homes that are used as a residence (i.e., not rented) qualify. Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable years; check with your tax professional for advice. (adapted from DSIRE USA).
Note: Individual circumstances vary and not everyone is able to take full advantage of the tax credits. Please consult a tax professional to learn if the federal solar tax credits apply in your situation. 
What kind of permits do I need?
You will need local building and electrical permits. Hannah Solar will take care of obtaining the necessary permits for you.
What solar panels are part of the program?
The primary panel specification for the Solarize Tybee & Chatham County project is a SolarWorld 315 watt, large format panel made in Germany. Hannh Solar has also obtained special access to Canadian Solar’s newest residential-sized panels made in Canada. These standard-sized 60 cell panels are 255 watts and may be appropriate on certain residential rooftops that have small surfaces and varying slopes. On some roof layouts, smaller panels will allow for a more efficient design. Additionally, for the term of the Solarize Program, the upgraded black frame Canadian Solar panels are now available at no extra charge.  In some cases, other panels may be offered, but Hannah Solar must discuss these options with you. For details and options, see the Equipment List.
What are the warranties?
SolarWorld and Canadian Solar panels carry a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year linear performance guarantee. The SMA Sunny Boy inverter carries a 10-year warranty. There is a 2-year installation labor warranty.
Will I be able to monitor my system?
The base system includes access to SMA's web-based portal at no charge.
What about maintenance and maintenance costs?
Typical maintenance activities can include removing branches or other sources of system shading, visually inspecting the system for damage, dust, or debris and hosing down the system as needed. Most of the costs associated with maintenance are associated with repairing/replacing system components, inspecting terminals and connections, or performing maintenance on inverters - all of which should be done by qualified technicians. The first year of maintenance is free, however you may wish to purchase an annual maintenance agreement ($0.05/watt, minimum $200) in the future.
How long should the inverter last and what is the cost of replacement?
The SMA Sunny Boy inverter carries a 10-year warranty. You can budget somewhere between $0.30 and $0.50 per watt for a replacement ($1500-$2500 for a 5kW system).
How long will the installation take?
Once your contract is approved and signed, Hannah will begin the permitting process and order your equipment. Typically, it should take about 15 days from the time your contract is signed and approved until your system is delivered and installed, interconnected, and energized. Times may vary, however, depending on your local permitting process and other factors. Once the permits are obtained and the equipment is delivered, the physical installation is performed in about 3 days.
Am I required to use the Solarize Tybee installer (Hannah Solar)?
To take advantage of the tiered pricing structure and guaranteed minimum price, you need to work with our pre-selected installer. However, other solar installers in the area may be able to offer competitive pricing and your are free to select your own installer if you choose not to participate in this program.
Will solar panels withstand hurricanes?
Properly installed panels on high quality roofs will be able to withstand the pressures of hurricane winds. It is reported that rooftop solar systems in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy survived remarkably well. As with other structures, flying debris during hurricanes may cause damage. You may be advised to shut off your system until after the high winds/rains pass and the system can be inspected.
Is a solar PV installation included in the list of improvements that are subject to FEMA's "50% rule"?
Yes; check with your local planning and zoning department for clarification.
What happens if I have a fire on my roof?
Fire safety professionals have developed procedures and best practices for dealing with rooftop solar panels. It is important that your local fire department knows the location of your electrical disconnects.
Will solar panels be covered under my home insurance?
Typically, yes, but it is important to check with your insurance agent to verify and to see whether your policy will need any adjustments.