NATiVE Solar customer Jim Trudeau joined Director of Sales John Lewis on KXAN’s Studio 512 with Stephanie Gilbert to discuss his experience going solar over 7 years ago, and recently adding a battery backup system, making his very own residential microgrid.

The Beginning

PART ONE Jim Trudeau, an Austin resident, started to look into going solar in the winter of 2013. Looking to do so primarily for the ecological benefit, he discovered it to be a practical choice as well. He began to calculate what the potential return of investment (ROI) would be for a system that would produce all his home’s electricity. The ultimate goal was to have carbon-free energy production with an electric bill of zero dollars. With Austin Energy’s incentive program, his calculations brought him to the conclusion of it being a financial no-brainer. He contacted NATiVE Solar, and his net zero journey began. See his initial ROI calculations here: ROI for Residential Solar Power (Part 1)

residential microgird
residential microgird

Checking In

ONE YEAR IN After going nearly a year powering his home with solar, Jim checked in with us to reveal if his calculations were on track in ROI for Residential Solar Power (Part 2). As we learned, it was going even better than expected. On top of his initial environmental motivation, which is a separate story altogether, the financial benefits provided a projected over 9% return every year,  an increase in home value by more than the cost of system, and a reduced monthly out of pocket expense ($0 electric bills).


More than 7 years of paying NOTHING for electricity, and by the looks of it, Jim won’t pay for electricity for many years to come. In any given month, Jim may have an actual amount due to Austin Energy (AE), but it comes off a credit that’s been built up in months where solar production is greater than consumption, so the credit on the “bill” grows.


    • 90,824 kWh
      • ≈1,032 kWh per month
    • 85,158 kWh
      • ≈968 kWh per month

The system has produced
5,666 kWh more than needed

    • Austin Energy Credit $9,394
    • Total bills $9,047

Current credit is $347

When the system was designed, batteries were not included since the local grid had an excellent record of reliability.
February changed that and Jim contacted NATiVE Solar about adding batteries.

residential microgird

Adding Battery Backup

BECOMING A RESIDENTIAL MICROGRID As you hear in the video interview above, and read in the KXAN piece on Trudeau, Jim decided to look into battery storage after the February Blackout left most Texans without power.

When looking into solar initially in 2013, getting batteries with his solar PV system didn’t make a lot of financial sense, and at the time, it didn’t make much practical sense either (this was before it was completely revealed to us how fragile the Texas grid was). In the last few years, however, battery systems have become more efficient and cost effective. And with the rising cost of energy and February’s Winter Storm, it now makes a whole lot of practical sense to become your own microgrid and backup your solar power with batteries.

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Interested in Your Own Residential Microgrid?