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  • $58,000 Solar Investment for a $21 Carbon Credit a Bright Idea?

    We can see the t-shirt slogan already: I paid $58,000 for solar panels and all I got was a $21 carbon credit that bought me this t-shirt. It’s not very catchy, but that’s the story of a Harrisburg couple, Tami and Randy Wilson, who installed solar panels in their home to reduce their electricity bill:

    The Pennsylvania couple has sold the world’s first carbon credit awarded for a reduction in personal carbon emissions. About 1,800 others have signed up to follow suit – underlining the US public’s readiness to press ahead on the issue. The Wilsons began by getting rid of their son’s heated water bed, turning off power to computers and televisions when not in use, changing to energy-efficient light bulbs, hang-drying their laundry and, finally, investing $58,000 in a solar panel system – until they reduced their electricity bill to zero.

    Then they signed up on the MyEmissionsExchange.com site to have their energy savings calculated. They found that they had already saved one tonne of carbon, which earned them a carbon credit. The exchange sold the credit for $21.50 to Molten Metal Equipment Innovations of Ohio, taking a 20 per cent commission.”

    Make that $17.20 for the t-shirt after subtracting the exchange’s take. But if we wanted to have some truth to a t-shirt for the Wilsons, it would read: Thank you taxpayers for paying for $36,000 of our investment and thanks federal government for creating an artificial market for carbon dioxide credits. The Wilsons received an $18,000 federal tax credit and an $18,000 rebate check from Pennsylvania’s state government and also expect to collect $2,700 in renewable energy certificates.

    If the Wilsons or any other family wants to invest in solar panels or windmills to save money, they should be permitted to do. But they shouldn’t do it with the taxpayers’ help. There’s a reason renewable energy only meets a very small portion of our energy needs. Wind and solar cannot survive without preferential treatment through subsidies, mandates and tax breaks. Take away those government handouts; do the Wilsons still make that $58,000 investment? There’s a big difference between a $19,000 investment and a $58,000 investment.

    Tami Wilson said, “It takes a trigger point to get people involved. For us it was the announcement of a 30 per cent increase in our electricity bill.” That’s the point of government policies like cap and trade; after all, President Obama said that under his cap and trade plan, “electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.” The goal is not only to raise the price of energy high enough for people to use less of it, but also to distort the market in such a way to make renewable energy prices able to compete in the market.

    The Wilsons expect to sell renewable energy certificates to carbon-emitting companies that need to meet government mandates and will recover their investment in six years. Unfortunately, the American taxpayers cannot make such a claim.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to $58,000 Solar Investment for a $21 Carbon Credit a Bright Idea?

    1. Bill says:

      How much of the $58,000 is returned to China, the most likely country the solar panels were manufactured? Woo hoo, Obama was right, more green jobs, but hey it's for China.

      All the carbon taxes paying for manufacturing in China and in the meantime China expands cheap reliable energy by adding a couple of coal burning stations a week.

      If the Government subsidized the entire stock of homes in the US (100,000,000 residences) with solar panels at an average cost of $30,000 that would work out at $30 Trillion. That is without factoring in the commercial demand for energy in the US and the public and private cost of energy in transport.

      Now that would build some great coal burning stations in China.

      • Barton says:

        You're probably right about their panels being made in China but I've held out for mine. Now that I've waited the State incentives aren't as high but I can purchase solar PV made in my own region, Western PA and get American-made micro-inverters as well. We could argue until the cows come about the balance of subsidies between fossil and renewable energy markets and the rationale behind investing in a new renewable energy and American manufacturing to get them up to a self-sustaining level, but I'm going focus on getting my family running on clean, locally-sourced, and reliable solar energy so that perhaps a few less coal miners and soldiers die on my account.

    2. TonyfromOz, Coomera says:

      The key thing to keep in mind here is that a rooftop solar panel electrical generating system is only 'Revenue Neutral'.

      If there were no Government subsidies at the front end, no one would be buying them with their own money.

      There are also subsidies for the power they generate. These are called 'feed in tariffs'. The Authority, (subsidised for it from the Government) pay you for the excess power you generate during the day that is fed back to the grid. To make this attractive those tariffs are around double to triple what you actually pay for power you consume FROM the grid. If the authority doubled or tripled your cost you would balk, but the only way they can make it attractive is to make you accept as OK something you would not accept if it was the other way round.

      The panels only generate that power during daylight, so at night, these people with panels consume power FROM the grid, that power usually on a ratio of double what is used or generated during daylight hours. By their own admission they are net consumers FROM the grid because they say they pay no electrical bill. If the feed in tariff is double to triple, then they are consuming more than the panels will ever generate, that power they do consume being in non daylight hours.

      The feed in tariff pays for the power you consume from the grid during non daylight hours, and thus the system is revenue neutral, and you pay zero electrical power bill, but you still consume power from the grid.

      This is the only way these systems can be viable, with subsidies for fitment, and that feed in tariff.

      Even with those panels, and here you are looking at around 36 panels, a rooftop full of them, the large inverter and associated wiring, all you are saving is your electricity bill, on average $1200 per year, so even at the $19,000 post subsidy outlay, it takes 16 years to recover the original outlay. Imagine the time if there were neither of these 2 subsidies.

      You are locked into staying in that house for that time at least because they are not portable, without huge outlay for disconnect and reconnect at the new house. The life of the panels themselves barely makes it to 25 years, if they are kept perfectly pristine by getting on the roof and polishing them on a weekly basis at least.

      Then, this Pennsylvania, so there's the chance they'll be covered in snow for part of Winter, and with very little in the way of sunny days in that Winter.

      Imagine paying for them if there were no (taxpayer funded) subsidies, or (taxpayer funded) feed in tariffs.

      So, when these customers say they pay no electrical bill, that is barely part of the story.

      Again, sorry to take up so much space.

    3. Robert Emery, Califo says:

      Wait! There is more. How about the millions of jobs Green Energy will create? Since electrical demand declined 3.6% last year, every megawatt placed in service will require a megawatt to be taken out of service.

    4. Drew Page, IL says:

      This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time and it puts all this "Green Energy" stuff into its proper perspective. I'll bet Al Gore is a stock holder of the company that sold the solar panels for $58,000 and is laughing all the way to the bank.

      This, my friends, is what our liberal, progressive zealots have in mind for us all. They need to hire Vince (the Sham-Wow guy) and put this on TV.

      "Be the first on your block to get a net $17.50 Carbon Credit, when you purchase $58,000 worth of solar panels. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE, if you act now, we will throw in a free picture of Al Gore, suitable for framing. Tell your friends."

      Solar panels – $58,000. Carbon credit – $17.50. Look on buyers face -priceless.

    5. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    6. Craig- Westchester N says:

      I am a conservative and in the solar industry.

      Basically, the conclusions are very inaccurate.

      Robert – electrical demand may have declined over a 12 month period due to an economic slowdown, the effect of green energy removing demand from the grid and the fact the Northeast had record heat two summers ago and record cold last year.

      Tony from Australia- g'day – your conclusions are wrong also. Electrical usage is highest during the day because thats when demand is the highest. Like any other commodity – it commands a higher price when demand is highest. By putting in solar you ease the strain on the grid and keep prices low. Panels require very little ongoing support – especially compared to other sources.

      Go to Hawaii- see what they pay for electric – they have very minimal state support. Sure, if electric prices remain the same you'll be fine in your lifetime. But they have not remained the same have they ? Every year they slowly inch up, on average 5% per year in the US over the last 10 years. btw- the states realize this and have slowly removed or cut the rebates and grants as electrical prices have risen and solar panel prices have declined.

      China, India, Brazil – they all want TV's cellphones and I-pods too. They also have instituted higher rebates then the US to spur demand. We sit and twitter and blog about the green movement while we watch our flat screen TV's and soon to have I-Pads and in the near future – electric cars.

      China is one of the worlds largest adopters of Green Energy – they are also building manufacturing plants here in the US to keep up with demand and to cut-down on transportation costs. Take a look at what Suntech is doing. Evergreen Solar the former pure US manufacturer just moved operations to – you guessed it- China.

      300 years ago people hunted whales to the brink of extinction for their oil. we now send ships halfway around the world to foreign countries that have little or no respect for the United States (or Australia ) to accomplish the same thing. We have weakened our country because of this need.

      People who put in solar systems should be celebrated as patriots not ridiculed or mocked. That $21 carbon credit was the centerpiece of this story, its not the whole story or even the end of the story…..its just the beginning.

      The panels work great and are a hedge against electric rates rising. We'll see whose mocking who in four years.

    7. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Craig – No one suggeting solar panels don't work. If people want to go through the expenses of modification to their house, the actual cost of the panels,

      and the labor to instrall them, Great! But don't suggest that I pay for this with my tax dollars. Or are you suggesting a tax increase on evreyone so that a few

      sick souls can feel better about their absurd view they are saving the planet.

      Since you live in New York, why don't you suggest drilling for oil and gas off your coast. More oil, gas, (with coal) will help the cost and availability of energy more affectively than pie in the sky panels.

    8. Bob, Daton says:

      Craig from NY. Most of your comments are non-sequitars. the only one somewhat relevant is that electric prices will continue to rise….but they are only rising in large part to fund the subsidies for the solar panels in the first place! The solution is to stop the subsidies and let solar stand or fall on its own merits.

      And even with the subsidies and assuming 'necessarily skyrocketing' electric prices, the investment still isn't worth it. I do these type of calculations for a living. Starting at $1,200/yr electric, it would have to go up 50% per year before it even makes a modest return. And you'd still be in the hole for over 5 years. A 5% increase isn't even close.

    9. Norma from Nebraska says:

      Craig: "I am a conservative and in the solar industry." I suppose one could say that you have a vested interest in the push for solar systems being put onto every home in America . . . or even just New York! Just a side thought, will you be adding new employees this year as well?

      And while the federal govt is giving away $18,000 and State govt are matching it for this home owner, the cost to the end user is minimal in the grand scheme of things! Shortly the Dept of Forrestry will be GIVING AWAY money trees, each household REQUIRED to grow ten, so there will be all kinds of "green" to pay for this govt "give away" program along with all of the other new ones coming down the pike. Isn't life in America just wonderful?

      So I guess you don't mind that the $18,000 tax credit PER HOME, provided by you and me, is going out of our Treasury every single time someone decides to let the taxpayers pay for their solar system. When this program gets going full swing, you will PROFIT from this windfall of business . . . good for you. That is what free enterprise is all about so I applaud your success. The problem: this may be good for you and your business, but not so good for me, the taxpayer, because I have to foot the bill. So forgive me if I just disagree with the program. Wonderful, my conservative friend, is when you have a customer who pays his OWN bill without rebates provided by MY hard-earned tax dollars!

      We could all be PATRIOTS, be on the govt dole, wait for our "nanny state" to provide our every want and need: utilities, food, water, shelter, jobs, insurance, cars, loans . . . .what else could we possibly want or need? And how will we pay for this entitlement program? Well, we’ll just plant more “money” trees, or better yet we can just call up 'ole Ben at the Federal Reserve and have him print some more money. But the BEST and most practical solution is to tax those BIG bad businesses, that top 1%, into oblivion until they limit product production. . . or die . . . or move overseas! Talk about an incentive to keep your business small!!!!

      All of these entitlement programs the govt is coming up with are killing the free enterprise system and our country. And now if the govt just comes through with this new jobs bill, then small businesses can add new employees and get a rebate to the tune of $5,000 a pop! Don’t gov't subsidy programs rock!!!

      The sad fact is if there is money to give away, the RIGHT thing to do would be to cut MY taxes and give it back to me because I work hard to earn it. Then if I wanted to add solar panels to my house, I could pay for them myself. What a novel but archaic thought.

      By the way, just exactly what kind of a conservative are you??? For some reason I always thought that conservatives were for LESS government, not more!

    10. Craig- Westchester N says:

      First of all the fed's give a 30% rebate on the federal tax credit does not come from your tax dollars Norma, it is not a check, it comes off the individuals earned income, not Norma's tax's. Ratchet down the angst too. No one is here to pick you pocket and since there is obviously a lack of knowledge about how the program works – it might be nice to know about it. Most home systems are about 4 kilowatts which costs about 24,000 – so 30% of that and again it comes off of the individuals taxes not out of your pocket. That money is being rebated so the utility does not have to upgrade their service or build new utility plants. The individual is also shopping around for the best deal driving down prices too. The tax credit will be here till 2017 in case you change your mind. Here in in NY we pay .23 per kilowatt hour in California its over .30, in Hawaii its over .40.

      As for Bob who thinks that Solar is the reason for his electric bill rising- take a look at the RPS/SBC charge on the back of your bill. thats the charge, mine is about $1 per month.

      Dont want to buy a solar system ? You can lease one and get 10-30% off you current electric bill.

      Norma – if you want to make Venezuela and Saudi Arabia richer please do so. Just be advised that you are standing on a melting ice cube.

      If you want – Lets cut the farm subsidies, and breaks for oil and natural gas companies, maybe we stop depreciation on business expenses.

    11. TonyfromOz Coomera Q says:


      I know that no one will be coming back to read this, and this reply is late mainly because of the time difference between Australia and U.S. Eastern.

      However, what needs to be corrected here is your statement that most electrical consumption is during the day. The main Peak power period where most electrical power consumption occurs is from 4PM until 10PM, especially in Winter, and this specific case bears that out as they say themselves they are only 'revenue neutral', hence consuming more power after hours than they generate during daylight.

      A system of this size would be around 6KW. The house, even at rest will consume close to 4KW of that even if the occupants both work and the children are at school. hence the remainder is fed back to the grid for that feed in tariff. This will amount to around 14KWH per (every bright clear full sunny Summer) day. The average power consumption for a U.S. residential application is around 33KWH per day, hence even with this system, the house is still a net consumer FROM the grid of around 20KWH per day, and that would be the minimum.

      The real point of the Loris argument is that without those taxpayer funded subsidies, then the system will (a) never pay for itself, and (b) is using other people's money to pay for it.

      That 14KWH of power fed back to the grid would not EVER be taken into consideration by planners coordinating power demand versus power available at the grid, no matter how many thousands of houses have these large systems on their roofs.

    12. Drew Page, IL says:

      Craig — I must say that your comments are thought provoking and I respect the fact that you know a lot more about solar energy than most of us. I believe that most Americans are smart enough to realize that there are alternative sources of energy that are both clean and renewable. These alternative sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal would be great, if they were dependable and cost effective today, not 10 to 20 years down the road. I personally would love to see hydrogen become the fuel of the future. But today, these alternatives are not dependable or cost efficient.

      You are sensitive to people's skepticism with solar energy. I think what people are really skeptical about is the marketing of solar energy and who is doing the marketing. I don't know where you stand on the issue of global warming and its cause, but for many of us our skepticism grows due to the supression of open discussions with scientists and climatologists who disagree with those who insist we are currently in a period of global warming and that it is due to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide. We are skeptical because it has been discovered that those preaching man-made global warming have been caught surpressing and twisting information that ran contrary to their preconceived notions. We are skeptical because the proponents of the global warming theory want to shout down and demonize the non-believers. We are skeptical because of a government that constantly plays to people's fears and tries to capitalize on those fears to justify taxes and more taxes.

      Our current political leaders in power today have proven themselves simply not credible and untrustworthy. They have shown that they are irresponsible, most of them, including the President of the U.S. did not even bother to read the $800 billion Stimulus bill they turned into law. The President himself still has not read the House and Senate versions of the health care reform legislation that he wants so desparately to pass. The Proposed Cap & Trade legislation would do nothing to eliminate carbon emissions, it would merely require those generating such emissions to purchase "carbon credits", the cost of which would be passed along to consumers. The majority of Americans today do not trust the government, and for good reason. If the "Green Energy" people really want to get their ideas sold to the public the first thing they should do is get the government marketing efforts out of it.

    13. Craig- Westchester, says:

      Response to Drew-

      10 to 20 years from now there will be another billion or so people in the world. Energy needs are going to increase with or without govt tax incentives, but I ask you, is it smart to be proactive on this issue ? Keep in mind the individual is responsible for earning his own money in order to pay for his system. The tax credits are given to those persons who put money to work in solar and how they get to do that is by earning money themselves. It is not subject to AMT and in most states they cannot raise your property taxes for putting this capital improvement on your home.

      I also agree with you on climate change- I doubt very highly that human activity is responsible for a global climate change. However, that is not going to change the fact humanity has a finite supply of affordable fossil fuels. I would also recommend building nuclear plants but it might take 10 years to build any. I can put a solar system in less then 30 days – including permits !!

      Now who is going to pay for that nuclear power ? You and I – thats who. So, I ask you what the difference is. While also not a fan of cap and trade – I would like you to know there is a form of it operating in NJ and it is working out with enormous success. PA and MA are hot on the heels. MY point on the $17.50 carbon credit is to think of that as a dividend not the principal. Its a dividend that will also increase and a solar system will protect a business and homeowner against future electric rate increases.

      From a financial point of view – it makes sense – people buy municipal bonds to avoid taxes and for principal assurance. You are investing in your home or business – what can be more capitalistic then that.

      From a national security point of view it makes sense. I want to cut reliance of foreign energy sources once and for all. On that point I think everyone can agree on. I agree with small government but if we dont put some monies into technology what are doing ? – giving the edge to China and India all over again.

      I realize it cant be all solar but if we got to 10% – that would be HUGE.

    14. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      Florida had solar panels in the late 40's an 50's, they system had a battery back up, the battery's stored energy so on cloudy days and in evenings the system stilled worked. FPL was behind these solar panels disappearing, they fought individuals having win mills, they lost the later in court resulting in that they (FPL) must buy back excess energy. The main reason most don't go for solar panels is the initial cost, then most HOA's prohibit them. Here in the upper south east snow would be a factor this year but most years we get only a few inches at a time and the panels would reflect and cause rapid melting.i am looking into geo therm right now it's expensive but it heats and cools your home from deep in the earth.

    15. Randy Wilson Harrisb says:

      How nice of you to take such a derogatory position before you've done your homework. My wife and I are both 50ish and we've been paying taxes for well over 30 years. So the grant and tax credit isn't coming out of anyone else' pockets – we're merely recouping some of the tax money we've paid in over that time period. I really think people should think before they whine.

      Thank you for you time.

    16. Richard Kaufman says:

      Fraud using smoke and mirrors just for control of peoples lives. Time for the anointed-one to go away forever, as he is truly a Marxist profabicator of untruths. (For the fools whom believe in this idiocy, a losing path initiated by a LIAR)

    17. jon, sd says:

      Very interesting…..The solar industry definitely has a tons of room for expansion. There are opportunities all over the place. Envision solar has a very interesting plan about how and where to utilize solar energy. PARKING LOTS. By using this inefficient space and building solar groves, Envision will not only produce solar energy in commercial areas, but their solar groves will also look nice through revolutionary design and engineering and provide shade. The stock ticker in EVSI, so check them out or see some of their plans in some short videos they set up at http://www.envisionsolar.com/videos/

    18. Gregg says:

      the petroleum companies are stopping the advancement of the battery. If you think about it led lights more energy efficient appliances, great battery technology for small devices but the car battery has not changed in 50 years and we have no battery units that can store solar power efficiently. Why do we not sink some money into energy storage and finally put the old fossil fuel giants out of business

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