A lot of the feedback we get is that going solar is simply too cost prohibitive at the moment. You’ve got other things going on right now, the economy is shaky, and now is not the time for you to let go of thousands of dollars to do this, even if the system pays dividends immediately after you are tied back into the grid. There’s just not enough of a reason to climb up onto the counter and snag it out of the fishbowl. Sure is pretty to look at though.
Guess what? Your utility company has eyes to pounce solar energy out of the fishbowl and serve it up to you on a plate. Why? Sources close to me have confirmed higher renewable portfolio standards will be a reality for energy in the coming years. This means the cat above will be required to derive more of its energy mix from renewable sources by a certain year target than it does currently. It’s like lacing the fish and fishbowl with catnip.
Due to these standards, some municipally owned utilities are beginning to get creative. For instance, in Gainesville Florida, the municipally owned utility has guaranteed cash payments double the going rate of electricity to homeowners who install solar electric systems for the energy they produce- for 20 years. It’s called a “feed-in tariff”, the same mechanism which spurred relatively cloudy Germany to have the most solar installed per capita in the world.
The trickier question is, where does all the money, er.. catnip come from to do this? Certainly, it will not come from taxpayers. Instead, in the Gainesville case, ratepayers will foot the bill for the cash payments to those that go solar. The system they’ve rolled out increases ratepayer’s electric bills by 74 cents a month. Some people are displeased with that scheme, since the flat utility charge actually is a regressive tax of sorts. For instance, a homeowner using a lot of electricity – say $300 a month would now be paying $300.74 a month – not such a big difference. However, if you only use $35 a month and now pay $35.74 a month, this isn’t really fair. Perhaps other utilities will go with a per kilowatt-used charge in the future.
Last modified: March 14, 2009