Born on 4/20/2010
We talked to a couple of contractors, both of whom were very professional and took the time to answer all our questions. We decided to go with local Elk Grove company Go Solar. Our system will consist of seventeen 230W Solar World panels with Enphase micro-inverters at each panel for a total nominal output of 3.3kW AC and an estimated annual production of 5,663 kWh. For reference we consumed a total of 13,719 kWh in the last 12 months so this will by no means get us off the grid, but it will take a healthy bite out of our usage. The meter will run backwards when we are generating more than we are using.
After state (paid by SMUD) and federal rebates / credits the system is actually pretty affordable and since the usable lifespan of the system is upwards of 30 years it will be paying for itself within a decade or less.
I'll have more details here as we move along. Right now we're in the planning and permitting stage. Installation should begin within two weeks and be completed within a few days after that. Then once the power company signs off on it we'll be ready to throw the master switch and enter the world of the sun-powered future.