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Google Debuts Rooftop Solar Mapping Tool
Google wants to make it easier for homeowners to think about going solar. A new map-based tool, Project Sunroof, lets users check whether their home (or any other structure within the coverage area) gets enough sunlight to warrant solar installation. Then it estimates costs and savings. In its current stage, the tool only covers the Bay Area, Fresno, and Boston.
Once you look up an address, "you can fine-tune the estimate to figure out whether solar panels on your roof make financial sense, by plugging in your monthly electric bill, choosing a financing option (leasing versus loans versus buying), and so forth."
Project Sunroof's estimates take local circumstances into account. "California, for instance, has high electricity prices, which means there are bigger potential savings from installing rooftop solar. The tool also factors in various regional policy incentives — like state tax incentives, local rebates, and what kind of net metering rules a state has [...]"
The article discusses how residents of multi-family dwellings can take advantage of community solar. "These are programs in which people who don't own suitable roofs can agree to 'subscribe' to electricity from a solar PV project elsewhere. They then pay a monthly charge that appears on their utility bill."