Subject: Re: Making 'Clean Energy' Pay
From: Robert Moskowitz (
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 08:02:44 -0700 (PDT)
I'm not an expert in this, but friends of mine have solar on their (non-cohousing) house in southern California, and the best they can do is get free electricity for the year. The utility will not fork over any cash. If my friends produce more electricity than they use, it's considered a gift to the grid. So when they installed the solar, they had to calculate their average electricity use and put in just enough solar panels to make that much, and no more. If this is true everywhere, then you can stop counting on power generation to be a cash cow. The best you can hope for is to zero out your electric bills.

My friends say that calculating the Return on Investment and the Pay Back period depend on lots of assumptions and variables, but the simple scenario (how much did we pay? how much does that investment save us?) comes out to payback in around 18 years. On a strictly financial basis, you can do a lot better. But of course if you value saving the Earth, then this kind of investment makes sense on more than a strictly financial basis.

Robert Moskowitz
Santa Monica, CA

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