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Tesla solar roof available in Central Oregon; Bend resident says extra cost is worth it

(Adding video, comments from Greenlee Roofing, solar roof homeowner)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new way to do solar roofing has arrived in Central Oregon, and it's backed by Tesla, the high-profile electric car maker. 

Jake Hermeling is the first Central Oregon homeowner to have a Tesla solar roof built on a house.

“I think the beauty of the product is that you can’t tell it’s solar,” Hermeling said Monday.

The roof has solar tiles that are designed to look like shingles, instead of the typical solar panels.

“Most people come by, they have no idea,” Hermeling said. 

The roof was installed by Greenlee Roofing, a Bend-based company that received clearance from Tesla last January.

The company's website said the solar roof tiles are "are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles."

A few other companies have clearance throughout the state, but Director of Sales Hobie Smith said Greenlee is “the first and only in Central Oregon.”

Smith said a roof like Hermeling’s would roughly cost $18,000 to $20,000 for typical shingles. The solar roof is close to $25,000 to $30,000 more.

But Hermeling said having a "net positive house," with the opportunity for a tax rebate, is worth the upfront cost.

“As I was factoring it into my build cost, it was not a difficult decision for me, on the financial side,” he said. 

Smith said the solar roof could eliminate a homeowner's typical monthly energy cost.

“Everything that he would be spending per month, whether it be $150 to $200 per month, he’s gaining back,” Smith said. 

However, not every tile on the roof is solar. The roof is made up of solar tiles and dummy tiles.

Smith said the dummy tiles have the same glass structure, but without the solar technology to avoid wasting money and resources in areas that wouldn’t produce enough energy.

Hermeling explained to NewsChannel 21 how he tracks the roof's energy consumption. 

“Tesla has an app that shows what the roof is producing, in real time,” he said. “It shows what the house is consuming, and how much is going to the grid.”

Hermeling said it's the amount of sun his house gets that makes him confident he’s in the right place to go solar.

“One of the unique things Central Oregon has, in regards to solar in the state of Oregon in general, is 300 days of sun, right? That's usually the biggest factor you need with solar panels,” Hermeling said. 

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.



    1. Mandatory? You kidding? It’s a great idea but never should it be mandatory. That sounds like the best way to make owning a house for a first time homeowner even more expensive than it is right now. Those are the policies that drive up initial home buying prices. Horrendous idea.

      1. Fun fact: did you know that a source of heat is mandatory in new construction single family homes? That means you cant say no. There was a time though where it was optional. When prices aren’t nuts on solar anymore, it would be nice to have the ability to offset power usage locally on your own property instead of beefing up infrastructure for the entire place as population increases. Someday, this will be the way we all get our power.

        1. You are obviously missing the point with your fun facts. I mused have solar on my house however in no way would I ever push for it to be mandatory. You are pricing out young couples from ever owning a home with those types of policies. Optional of course, mandatory, no way. Totally ridiculous

          1. – you are missing the point of evolution of technology and its cost, cost/benefit investment, long term environmental benefits, and the opportunity to be free of a perpetual utility trap – try not to get stuck

        2. Fun fact. We have those pesky winter months when our roofs are covered with snow. DO you think you solar panels work when they’re covered with snow? Did you listen to the price point for this solar roofing? Beginning at upwards of $50,000+

    1. Solar is a tough sell in places that have low cost of electricity, but it does pay out in the long run. For many, the tiles produce more power than the home consumes most of the year. While this results in a credit on your power bill, it’s really nothing to get excited about. Those who most benefit are homeowners who live in areas that charge more for electricity during times of high demand, aka variable rate plans. The highest rates are usually mid day, which is precisely when solar roofs are at peak performance.

  1. You’ll notice there is no discussion about the cost of this. I went online a couple of months ago to see what it would cost to put on the south facing portion of my roof. About four times the cost of equivalent solar panels. I do hope that the cost decreases as competition increases because it’s a much more aesthetic option to panels, but that’s probably going to be years away.

  2. Snow removal and solar do not work. Love the idea of Tesla solar but there’s a reason why it didn’t work before. Do some simple ROI calcs and it’s not there yet.

    1. It didn’t work before? This is a virtually new to market roofing option. Can’t imagine what all of the millions of solar homes in snowy areas do? They probably just cry a lot on KTVZ and then fly south for the winter

  3. The solar roof tiles are a new technology and, yes for now, expensive. I don’t think that is the whole point of the story. Central Oregon is a good place for utilizing solar energy. When I see all of the new housing developments under construction here, it is frustrating to see that rarely are the homes oriented to take advantage of the southern exposure. Even passive solar applications make a difference. If every new home had some panels on the roof, it would make a big difference. I would like to see some of the infrastructure funding go toward providing bigger tax credits or other help so that more existing homes could go solar. Installing regular solar panels, in my experience, has been very effective. I built a house in 2004 and although it does not have the perfect wide open solar sky, I did install solar panels. 6 months of the year I pay just the Pacific Power monthly service fee, which is now $10. There is always a credit that flows over into the fall. January and February are my highest bills, just a bit over $100, using electric heat with a gas fireplace as back up.

    1. Infrastructure funding is used up by cronyism. As k Jay Ensley of Washington who has thousands of high paid cronies in in engineer positions with no experience of education in engineering. I’m sure the same can be said about Oregon

  4. “Worth it” is a tricky proposition. Financially worth it…..highly doubtful. Worth it in how it makes you feel….quite possibly.

    It is exceedingly difficult to make it pencil out financially in the PNW. Our electricity is too cheap. Thanks to the dams and some forethought, we have very affordable electricity. While solar prices have dropped and efficiency has climbed, it is still really tough to justify solar on a purely financial basis. With the more expensive shingle panels, even more so. I suppose If they really do last 3x longer than asphalt comp shingles it may pencil out after 60 years, and you figure new shingles every 15-20 years that you are not buying. Power production and cost per watt? No way Jose. Not a chance the Tesla panels produce enough power at at a cheap enough cost, unless power rates skyrocket.

    As a hedge against rising rates, it might make some sense. As a method to be independent of the grid? Perhaps if you add a few te$la powerwall$. As a green power source, maybe, but these cells are not made from bamboo and fairy dust. There are some fairly nasty processes in production. As a method to put the screws to opec? Sure, why not?

    It’s your money, if it makes you feel good, do it. Just go into it realizing it’s not likely a terribly sound investment choice or fiscal decision.

  5. I can’t speak to the overall value of the Tesla roof, but we installed solar panels on our south facing roof almost 2 years ago. Our monthly electric bill since then has been $10.35. Every month, month after month, through every season. The monthly savings may not equal the payment on the special energy loan we took out, but if you factor in the tax credits, it was a really good investment. Besides, if/when we ever sell the house, solar panels and other energy efficiency measures will add about 7% to the sales value. To me, it’s a win-win.

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