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– Hi, my name is Brian Sebastian. I live in Dallas, Texas, and I’m a Tesla Solar Roof and SPAN panel owner, and couldn’t be happier.
What electrification system did I start on my home?
I actually started with two SPAN panels. And so, I wanted to have line of sight on how much energy or how little energy, or too much energy my home was using just because my energy bills were through the roof. And I wanted to see what parts of my house were hurting me or helping me.
What insight did I gain the moment my SPAN panels were commissioned?
Interestingly enough, my house is 30 years old. And so, a year ago, I replaced a couple of air conditioners, but I had still a couple of air conditioners that were a little bit older. The night my SPAN panels became commissioned, I started playing around with the app. And it was interesting to me, the two older air conditioners compared to the newer air conditioners, were using 20 times as much energy. So I thought to myself, hmm, I don’t really wanna replace those, maybe I’ll get ’em serviced. Maybe there’s a maintenance issue. Lo and behold, long story short, the maintenance came out and told me I had mold. And one of the air conditioners, the furnace upstairs. That furnace sat right on top of my one-year-old daughter’s room. So indirectly, with the SPAN panels giving me line of sight on the inefficiencies, and questioning that, probably helped my daughter not get some kind of illness from the mold. So, that was just a blessing in disguise, but an indirect benefit of the SPANs.
I got my SPAN panels first, what came next was actually the desire to power my home completely off the grid.
So, I purchased a Tesla Solar Roof locally and went through that process, and been extremely happy with it. I produced enough energy not only to power my home, but I actually put energy back on the grid. So, the two reasons I went after that was, I wanted to protect my family. We went through Snowmageddon, we had been without power. I knew what my kids went through going through that, and I just promised myself I would never put them through that again. So, for the first part of the reason, number one was, I wanted to protect my family. I wanted to secure them because that really opened my eyes that the grid wasn’t always gonna be there for you when you thought it was going to be. So, I wanted to make sure I was energy-independent. I had the opportunity to do that.
And the second part is, in Texas, I had a chance to actually sell the surplus energy back onto the grid, and get paid for it. So, I had security in my family and passive income, put those together, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Did I get solar installed and battery power installed as well?
I did. I actually installed solar and three Powerwalls at the moment. And then, I was happy to find out once I started selling the surplus, and even my stored battery power back onto the grid, that I was actually making quite a bit of money doing that on a daily basis. There was days I made 500 or $600. And so, the light bulb went off in my head to say if I add a few more Powerwalls, I’ll be able to amplify the amount that I sell. So, I added actually four more Powerwalls. I have a total of seven Powerwalls, where now, I’m makin’ about 35, 40% more money. And so, my break-even point for my installation and costs has shortened. And so, that was really nice, so I honestly, I’ve harnessed something that is free. I’ve taken technology and harnessed it in a way that it protects my family and makes me money. The sun’s free. I wake up every morning and my supply costs are nothing. I sell something that’s free, you just had to find a way to grab it.
And the other part of that is the community needs it. Without me doing this, the energy would never existed. So, good things for my family, good things for my pocketbook, but honestly, good things for the community as well.
What was the why?
The why was living through Snowmageddon, understanding that you could go without power, you could go without electricity, you could go without heat for a variety of things that secure your family. I remember my kids shivering. I remember not being able to cook. I remember trying to do things in the dark. It’s a scary place for a child. Scary place for a parent to have a child go through that. I just promised myself I would never do that again, and so, the why is honestly just to get off the dependence of people, decision makers that maybe don’t always think about me, Joe consumer, and me always needing them. So, I took that equation out, I said, I’m not gonna depend on you anymore, I’m gonna take care of this myself. So, I built my own power plant. And so, I produce enough for myself, and I produce enough for my neighbors. So, it’s all good things. Do I recommend homeowners to electrify their homes? I think all of that is a personal decision, but I think the question you have to ask yourself is, how safe do you feel when danger comes knocking at your door? When you see recommended conservation from Ercot? You see our population growing, you see the grid. The grid not changing at all, it’s actually being more and more strained by more and more people living in Texas, and using more electricity. I think you’re gonna see more electric cars. So, electric cars need to be powered by electricity, so that’s more strain on the grid. So, I would just ask homeowners, how safe do you feel? When no electricity’s running through your house, can you picture that? And I went through that. And so, I experienced it and said, “I’m not doing that again.” And so, I would just say, think about if you didn’t have power for several days, all the conveniences in the safeties that you would have for your family, how would that feel? And so, the good news is, the technology’s superb. The technology is there, it’s cost-effective. So, you can have security, a breakeven point very soon, and then actually make money. So, you have the security of your family, you can pay for your investment, and then you can actually reap the benefits of making passive income off something you’ve just harnessed.
Do I get paid for the power stored in my batteries?
There’s two different types of energy you can sell. In Texas, Tesla Electric is the company I use for my electric plan. It’s only available in Texas. And so, Tesla is actually in the energy business. And so, what I can do is, as my house is powering itself right now, if there’s a surplus right now versus how much I’m using, that surplus goes onto the grid, and it sells at whatever the energy prices are. At that same time, if I choose to, and the prices are high enough, I actually sell power right outta my Powerwalls. So, there’s been moments I’m selling surplus during the day and my Powerwalls at the same time. And you get paid the 90% of the market value, and there’s been probably 20, 30 days this summer in 2023 where the price of energy has been 5 to $6 a kilowatt. Normally, that’s somewhere around 10 to 15 cents a kilowatt, while the price of energy when supply and demand are strained, was 5 and $6. So, you take that for my system, I was puttin’ 40 kilowatts an hour on that, that’s gonna be a lot of money. There’s some days I was makin’ 5, $600 a day. So, you back into your investment and figure how many of those days are gonna pay for your system. That breakeven point’s pretty quick. For people that are thinking about doing this, there’s not only the savings you get by not paying your bill, not having an electric bill, but you actually get a check and form a passive income where you put those two together, your breakeven point becomes very fast.
Was it difficult to sign up with Tesla Electric and start getting paid?
It was a matter of probably 25 seconds on the app, filling out my address, them verifying my system. It was very, very simple, it was one of the simplest things I’ve ever done. So, it’s interesting, in Texas, not every community is going to be eligible for Tesla Electric, there’s gonna be some co-op programs that you’re kinda stuck in. There’s gonna be some cities that haven’t quite adopted Tesla’s platform. But for me, what they call the VPP program, the Virtual Power Plant program, is I think the wave of the future, and that’s what was perfect about the timing of me choosing my system, it was paired up with a platform to be able to sell on. And what’s great about I think the Tesla VPP program is, the grid has only got so much energy. And this philosophy is taking homeowners that have power walls, and solar, and surplus, and we’ve become our own virtual grid. So, as an adjunct to the existing grid, we become an extension of that. So again, helping the community be more safe by putting more energy on the grid.
What message would I like to share with homeowners that live in Texas?
I think not every decision is a political decision. This has nothing to do with politics by, I joke that my friends have kidded me that this has been a liberal decision, and I told them, I said, “It couldn’t be further from the truth.” I’m actually a very conservative person. I care about my family, and I care about making money. So, most Texans care about their family, love their family, wanna protect their family, actually like money in their pocketbook. So, why not take something that’s gonna protect your family, something that you can sell that’s free, just you have to grab it and put money in your pocket? For me, as a Texan, security and profit seem pretty logical. And I think other Texans should think about that when you’ve got your homes and the grid, and all these types of things that, the world is changing. And for me personally, I haven’t had an electric bill, I haven’t had a gasoline bill because I have a car that powers off my system. And so, it’s just been a beautiful thing.
Why is electrification important to me at the moment? And why it should be important to think about in the future?
I think it just goes back to supply and demand. You think about what our current grid in Texas looks like, it’s strained, it hasn’t been updated. There’s still a lot of arguments about money being spent on this, upgrades to be spent on solar or wind versions of it, or just putting more into coal and gas. And there’s costs associated with that. So, you’re talkin’ about, for me, electrification is in the hands of people and decision makers that don’t include me, and have a voice. So, I think electrification right now is so important ’cause I think it’s just empowering yourself saying, “You know what? No more I’m gonna be dependent on others.” And it’s 15 years ago, that may have been a difficult thing to do, because we didn’t really have a way to say enough, I’m gonna do it myself. What’s the saying? “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” So, we didn’t have the ability years ago. Now, we actually have a very cost-effective, easy way for the consumer to get into the market and say, “Enough, I’m not depending on your decisions anymore, I’m gonna make my own decisions. I’m gonna protect my family, and then I’m gonna do it in a way that’s economically beneficial for myself.” I think in the future-wise electrification, I think electricity costs are gonna continue to go up. I think prices are gonna continue to go up. I think we have more and more people moving to Texas, which is gonna drive demand costs or demands up. Supplies remaining the same, so you can see where this book is going, where prices are just gonna continue to go up, so it’s just a personal decision, but I feel like the time is now to start taking that into my own hands.
What is it about the cost benefits for my solar roof and my SPANs?
There’s been a really nice benefit of owning solar. In the year that I install it, the installation costs, all the equipment, everything, when I file my taxes, I actually will get a 30% tax credit back for my investment, which is, again, very nice because you can see where the government’s trying to make steps towards making electrification something that is one more thing we can lean on when supply is not there. But for me, as a homeowner, paying my own bills, taking my total costs, and reducing it by 30% brings my breakeven point down to a very, very small period of time. So for me, it gets to the point where my investment eventually is paid for itself, that 30% from the IRA program really brings that into more of a narrow timeframe. The big thing about solar now, is don’t be afraid of it being confusing. Don’t be afraid of it being too complicated, and don’t be afraid of being too expensive. Believe it or not, it’s very affordable.
Do you recommend EPX and why?
There’s can be a lot of noise out there, this for free, and that for free, you’re gonna have a lot of people possibly knocking on your door. I would trust somebody like EPX to do your SPAN. I would definitely, I recommend Tesla because I really is very, very happy with them. So, don’t be scared that it’s too confusing. Don’t be scared that it’s too complicated. And definitely don’t be scared or intimidated, it costs too much. Look into it. Just have an open mind and check into it, and see what it would be for your home. I recommended getting two or three different quotes. I recommend calling EPX. They are the ones that I felt like shot me straight, or were very, very honest and transparent with me about what I needed. I actually got my house up to code for a couple things that didn’t have, that protected my family even more. I recommend calling EPX. I recommend looking into it and not being intimidated by what you think it may cost. And it may not be as expensive as you think, it really surprised me when I looked into it, how cost-effective it was. And the benefits outweigh what we’re talkin’ about as far as cost. Because for me, once I did the kinda the math, it was pretty easy. And the benefits definitely outweighed the cost.