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Pioneering community-owned renewable energy

The Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE) is a non-profit organization that helps community-based organizations and public sector institutions plan, develop and own renewable energy systems. We work with faith communities, nonprofits, local governments, K-12 schools, colleges and universities. We also consult and conduct research on renewable energy in the public interest and collaborate with organizations that are working to hasten a rapid transition to distributed, community-owned renewable energy.

Estimating a Solar System's Benefit to Your Home, Business or Non-profit


While there are MANY factors to consider, AIRE believes the following 5 (ranked in order of importance) are the most critical:
  1. The price paid for the solar system
    Purchasing a solar system is equal to buying ALL the electricity the solar system will produce over its 25 - 30 year lifetime on day one - avoiding the rising cost of energy made more expensive by general and energy inflation. The more you pay for the solar system, the more you pay for the electricity produced by the solar system.

  2. The value of the energy produced by the solar system
    The energy produced by a solar system is worth more when consumed onsite - offsetting more expensive energy purchased "at retail" with inflation and utility profit margin included. AIRE recommends sizing the solar system to ensure all the electricity produced by the system will be used onsite.

  3. The terms of finance used to purchase the solar system

  4. Qualification for the tax-based "coupons" offered for the purchase of a solar system
  5. The "coupons" offered for the purchase of a solar system are tax based. Businesses paying federal taxes can purchase a solar system for 50% - 60% less than non-profits, as non-profits cannot claim these funds from their tax bill. Individuals paying federal taxes and purchasing solar systems for their homes will pay 30% less for the system, thanks to a 30% tax credit offered by the Federal Government. Businesses receive the same 30% tax credit and accelerated depreciation when purchasing a solar system.

  6. The useful lifetime of the solar system

This calculator is for estimation purposes only. AIRE's intent is to illustrate the relationships between the costs and benefits of a solar installation. DO NOT PURCHASE OR FINANCIALLY PARTICIPATE IN A SOLAR SYSTEM BASED ON THIS CALCULATOR ALONE.


AIRE - pioneering community-owned renewable energy
a fiscally sponsored project of Inquiring Systems Inc.
164 South Depot St. • Boone, North Carolina 28607 • info@aire-nc.org • phone: 828.268.5022
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