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Information about Paying Homeowners to Roll their Own Solar Power

By LEWIS Wyatt Subscribe to RSS | July 25th 2012 | Views:
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Somehow, Europe has managed to get everyday people to voluntarily and enthusiastically fall behind personal solar energy production like no one in America does (except for maybe members of Greenpeace). On the streets of small-town Germany or Spain, the glint of solar panels on every roof or the whirr of a wind turbine in a back is so common a sight, that you'll soon stop noticing. Of course, it would not be strictly correct to describe their adoption of alternative energy as entirely voluntary. The local governments in these areas pay homeowners the best rates possible for the electricity they supply to the grid, often four or five times what a utility company would get. This method of encouraging people to switch to solar power or wind power has been so successful that counties and districts across the US are beginning to take note. Last year, Gainesville, Florida became the first convert to the European model. The great prices that homeowners get for everyunit of power they produce, encourage them to invest in these expensive installations; and city councils have been enthusiastically backing these efforts.

If there is any one place in America that would welcome this scheme, it would have to be Hawaii, where electricity is so expensive, that people have been desperate for alternatives to regular power. And Hawaii is jumping on the bandwagon. The mayor of Los Angeles loves the plan, and Gov. Schwarzenegger of California, and the governors of Washington and Oregon are eyeing the plan every which way too. So do they have a name for it? They sure do, and it's called feed-in tariff in Europe where the plan was originally born. The government just tells the utility company that market rates do not apply to green solar power. This is just a much better way than what it used to be - getting cash rebates and tax breaks to people who take the plunge. Under the feed-in tariff plan, you just get paid forever.

And yet, even in solar-happy Germany, this only accounts for 1% of all the electricity the country uses. But it's a start, and the best one any country has ever made. There is such a flurry of activity in Florida, where the government guarantees that they'll pay you twice what the regular utilities are paid, for the next 20 years. And this is on top of the cash rebates and other incentives. If it weren't for all this government interest, no one would ever buy solar panels; they are after all, staggeringly expensive. But figuring out how much you actually profit from those might be tricky. If you get paid twice as much or four times what the utilities get, well, it's your neighbors who pay it. But since it's all for a good cause, there isn't as much guilt that is called for. The only thing is, that subsidizing solar power installations can get too expensive for the governments offering them. In Canada, and in Florida, the city councils have had to shutter the program from time to time, so thick and fast where the applications coming in. At one point, they thought they were going to go bankrupt bankrolling all the solar power installations.

What all the preaching in the world could never do for solar power, a little extra payment always seems extra successful. It's enough to reestablish your faith in mankind.

LEWIS Wyatt - About Author:
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