Monday, March 31, 2008

Managing the Wrong Numbers

Lawmakers Look To Set Cap On Solar Panel Fees - Denver News Story - KMGH Denver: "'Solar is a borderline efficient technology. Adding unreasonable costs stretches out the payback period beyond what makes economic sense,' he said."

The first question that pops out of people's mouths when you start talking about solar power is "What's the payback period?" It is like the homeschooling questions, "What about their socialization?" They are nonsense questions, they have nothing to do with the matter at hand. You would never ask that question about a new refrigerator or SUV, now, would you?

The funniest things I ever see after a blizzard around here are all the 4x4s cruisin' around in the snow, because they finally have a chance to justify the reason they bought the thing in the first place. "But we can use it to drive in the snow." The best one was the one guy who got his truck out of the driveway and ended up blocking the road for an hour because he couldn't get any farther. He eventually drove it right back into the garage and shut the door behind him.

A solar electric system costs about as much as a new SUV (~$32,000) but with rebates and credits it can be brought down to about $12,000 a new small car. Not an unreasonable amount for some budgets.

The real question isn't how big a system you should get. At the least it should cover the basics like frig, freezer, furnace, sump pump, some lights and a laptop computer.

The real question is how to setup a good loan system to make it easier to pay for. You still seem to have to go and get a regular bank loan rather then something simple like an auto loan. I am not a finance guy so I have no ideas what all the rules and laws are around this but it would seem to me to make more sense creating an auto loan type system to make it easier for people to buy.

The hardest part about getting a solar power system isn't the parts and construction but getting the money. Solve that problem and more people will go for it.

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