So, you found that perfect piece of rural property on which to build your dream home and you don’t have a lot of cash left for a big RE system. Now what? You still need to have electricity for a number of crucial things, like your well pump, refrigerator, and lights.
If you like the lifestyle, but are not necessarily committed to falling off the grid, you can investigate how much it would cost to run utility electricity to your property. Depending on your distance from existing lines, it may cost between $50,000 and $100,000 (and up)—just for the privilege of buying electricity from the utility for the rest of your years. But $50,000 can buy a lot of renewable energy capacity with no recurring energy bills!
If you are building a new off-grid home, many institutions would be happy to fold the cost of your RE system into the construction loan. If you need to transition to a mortgage at the conclusion of the construction, all home lenders require that the home has sufficient power to properly protect its asset value—a home with no electricity would be difficult to sell.
Make sure that you keep copies of your invoices for the RE system, as well as copies of the approved electrical inspection, to prove to the mortgage company that you have electricity at the property, and to ensure that the appraiser adds an appropriate amount to the value of the home.
If there is existing infrastructure, like an engine generator, that provides electricity, you may still be able to refinance into a new mortgage and access cash for your PV system. Additionally, bank loans may be available. However, they vary on a regional basis, so be sure to talk to your bank—especially if you have a strong credit rating.
Some of the state loan programs will also help finance off-grid PV systems. To see what’s available, visit the Database of Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency site at www.dsireusa.org.