To Solar or Not to Solar?

Here’s a question: Is solar power worth it? That kind of depends on where you live. While many clamor over Earth hour being such a good thing, not even realizing […]
March 20, 2016

Here’s a question: Is solar power worth it? That kind of depends on where you live.

While many clamor over Earth hour being such a good thing, not even realizing that it saves no energy on the planet at all, we need to look at what pushing for solar energy means in terms of you and the grid.

If you’re in an area that gets lots of sun and doesn’t have lots of extra fees associated with collecting solar energy, and you’re ready to make a long-term commitment to solar — sure! Solar power could be a good way to cut down on utility costs.

But if you’re really wanting to make the switch, the upfront cost of installing panels and getting your home solar-ready can be expensive. The Solar Power Authority estimates the average cost of a 5kW system ranges from around $25,000-$35,000.

And for most people, the payoff period will be at least 10 years and likely closer to 20.

So, why does location make such a difference? One: Some places are just sunnier than others — and the more sun, the better. And two: Some states have incentives for solar-paneled homes, while others don’t.

States like Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii — for example — might not be the best places to invest in solar, despite the sunny weather. In Nevada and Arizona, public utilities have enacted regulations that have driven up the cost for homeowners taking advantage of net-metering, which is when a home sells its excess solar power back to the utility companies.

Hawaii’s problem is that solar-paneled homes have sold so much surplus power back to the grid that utilities have become overwhelmed, so much so, net-metering buills have been enacted, to pay a flat rate bill monthly no matter what!

In December, Nevada state regulators abruptly raised fees and voted to phase out what’s known as net-metering, which gives customers credit at retail prices for the power they produce. In other words, they get to charge you for powering other homes!

Last year, Arizona state’s major utility, the Salt River Project, or SRP, changed its rate structure and that increased what solar customers were paying. As a result, installations plummeted.

On the other hand, if you live in states like California or Rhode Island, solar could be a good investment.

The conversation in Rhode Island is a very interesting one because they’re using this net-metering concept, but they’re guaranteeing price points and paybacks to the end user if they’re the ones generating the solar energy.

California has a history of being pretty pro-renewable energy, though even energy-savvy states have run into issues with power grids. The major problem with California is the very low net-metering allowance of a mere 8 cents/kw. Though is does give tax breaks for equipment costs of your property taxes.

Koolbridge Solar is working on a system that helps homes retain 100 percent of the power gathered through panels on the house, which could eventually help homeowners get away from net metering altogether. Provided laws dont mandate it to be put back on the grid.

But Kage! It is going to help save the planet, man! Well, no, not really. Solar panels rely on rare earth elements that harvested out the ground and they are not renewable, not recyclable and are dangerous when discarded. Rare earth metals are all around you. They’re in your computer or tablet or mobile device. You can find them in the batteries of hybrid cars and in a myriad of other places. With the technology boom has come a spike in the usage of rare earth metals because they’re critical for the construction of some many of the components we need to make technology work.

Environmental costs associated with rare earth metals are quite significant. First, you have to extract them. Then, you have to purify them. After they’re distributed into technology, they often end up in landfills.

Mining is a dirty industry. Some of that dirt is unavoidable, because the industry has to tear into the earth to access useful metals and minerals. In other cases, it is avoidable, but only at great cost. It is impossible to provide metals and minerals at the costs demanded by manufacturers, under pressure from consumers, and thus that they are forced to be dirty, because there is no other choice if they want to remain competitive in the industry.

After mining and processing, rare earth metals coast along as people use electronic equipment, until that equipment reaches the end of its usable life. Technology is increasingly designed to be disposable in nature. People do not fix their technology, they replace it. It is often cheaper to buy new than to repair, and people may be discouraged from seeking repairs; why would you want to replace that DVD drive when your processor is outdated? You are on FB and the Internet and watch enough TV enough to know!

Just wait until we are 100% “renewable energy” and see how filthy this planet gets then and not to mention the limited area of livable land space there will be. And Guess what? Mother Nature is still gonna have climate change. Oh dear. Lions and Tigers and Bears, TOTO! OH MY!

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