This week, we received a postcard advertisement selling solar cell panels. Its two key sales arguments were a 30% Federal tax credit and an Ameren Missouri rebate that is scheduled to decline at the end of this year. Anne wanted me to call them, but I was skeptical until I heard on the radio that Ameren is currently petitioning the state’s regulatory committee to curtail this rebate program even earlier. They claim that it is costing them too much money. This news piqued my interest, so I called.
I was interviewed by a sales representative. She explained that the Ameren rebate would cover half of the purchase cost of the system. Combined with the 30% Federal tax credit, 80% of the purchase cost would be covered. She was dismissive about the Ameren petition, saying that they had tried and failed with the same tactic in Kansas City. The crux of the interview involved a discussion of the Google maps satellite photo of our house. The picture was a little dated, it was two years old. It still showed the big front yard fir-tree that blew down in a wind storm two years ago. I explained that it was now gone, but the photograph showed half the house in morning shade from our next door neighbor’s tree. I set up a meeting next week with one of their engineers, but I soon got a callback from the sales rep, she had spoken with the engineer. She explained that because of the shade, our house would not qualify for the Ameren rebate.
I cancelled the scheduled meeting. Ameren is probably being really picky, because they don’t like this state mandated program anyway. Thinking about it some more, it is probably just as well that the deal fell through. We’ve had to replace the roof twice in that last two years due to storm damage. A friend who already has solar cells had his damaged during one of these storms. If I had gotten the solar cells, they probably would have engendered an increase in insurance costs. I could chop down my new neighbor’s tree, but I would rather have tree shade than solar cells after all.