The Christine Galbreath Mammoth Real Estate Blog

Solar Systems in the Eastern Sierra

How Solar Can Help You Save in Mammoth

One of the questions buyers often ask when making a purchase is “what are the utility bills?”  Older homes can be very expensive to keep warm.  Adding insulation in crawl spaces, and attics, along with having a quality dual pane window are good first steps towards cutting down on your utilities bills.  I hadn’t thought about a solar system, but I became aware of how beneficial they are when I listed a home that had a solar system.  When I asked the owner, T.J. Chase, what his utility bills were, I was so impressed that I began to think about a solar system for my own home.    I really like the idea of being green and saving money on utilities.   When you check out your SCE bill, you will notice that there are different tiers and each tier costs more.  I have consistently been in the 4th and 5th tier, which means our kilowatt charges are pretty high.  After you have installed your solar system, SCE will credit you for how much energy you produce.  Depending on your exposure, you may end up close to even at the end of the year.

 T.J. Chase happens to be one of the owners of Sierra Solar, Inc. and so we had T.J. come out and survey our location.  He was really thorough in explaining how the program worked.  The solar system with the current tax incentives and financing programs was installed with no out of pocket costs.   If you are looking to stay in your home for a few years, you will recoup the costs and going green is beneficial for all of us.    I wish we would have considered a solar system several years ago.  We were able to through the program, HERO, add the cost of the solar system to our tax bill.  Much like a bond, which also means that cost of the solar system becomes a tax deduction.  With the current tax incentives, we are also looking forward to a substantial tax credit, which is much better than just a deduction.  We are able to finance the solar system over 10 years.  There are other options available, but the 10 year plan was best for our personal situation.  If we do sell our home during the 10 year payment plan, since it is part of our tax bill, the new buyer would assume the remaining balance. 

 T.J. climbed up on our roof with his special computer and was able to calculate how many panels would be most effective and where they should be placed.  We expect to be able to cut our costs substantially and should be able to stay in Tier 1.  Even living in Old Mammoth, we get an amazing amount of sun on the roof.   T.J. made the process seamless.   He provided the plans,  engineering,  did all the work to obtain the permit from The Town of Mammoth Lakes, he even handled the financing, and also will take care of the actual connection with the solar system to S.C.E. We started the process only about 30 days ago.   We have our permit, our solar panels, our final from the Town, and the financing.  All we are waiting for now is the connection with S.C.E. to our panels and expect that to happen prior to the end of this year.  Our first payment on this system won’t start until our December 2014 tax bill.

T.J. Chase of Sierra Solar, Inc. was a pleasure to work with.  He kept us informed every step of the way.  When the solar panels came in, he had them installed in 2 days.   

I am very impressed with how they go in, and even how they look.  I will update my blog on their performance, but from what I am hearing, I expect to be very pleased with the results.  We have experienced one good snow fall since the installation of the panels, and the snow melted really quickly so I fully expect the solar panels to be effective even throughout the winter season.

I would encourage those of you that like the idea of being green to consider solar panels for your home. T.J. Chase of Sierra Solar, Inc. can be contacted at 760-937-0846 and his email is or visit their website at