It’s Not Easy Being Green

Wind, Solar and Hydro Power All Available for the Taking

Wind, Solar and Hydro Power All Available for the Taking

At least that is what Kermit the Frog always said.

Back in October, I wrote about our attempt to get solar panels put on the house. In a totally uncharacteristic fit of enlightenment the great state of Missouri enacted a law that requires the power company to purchase the electricity that we can produce. Furthermore, Ameren must pay upfront for the expected ten years of electricity that we will produce. This upfront payment will defray half the purchase cost of any system. Federal tax credits further reduce our out-of-pocket costs. Back in October, I inquired at Micro Grid, the leading solar panel installer in Saint Louis and was deemed to be not a viable candidate, because our shade trees blocked too much sunlight, making any solar panel system we bought too inefficient.

Last Friday, after Las Palmas we were walking back to the car. Most of the shopping festivities had died down by then, when I spied Earth First Solar. They had a few solar-powered toys and trinkets for sale, but their main business was selling solar panels. They appeared to be a bare-bones start-up. I cannot deny that alcohol was involved, maybe it was that free margarita, but I ended up signing up for an appointment, which was today.

Kyle showed up and we walked around the house’s exterior, looking at the roof, trees and power box. We went inside next and Kyle did his sales pitch and showed me the quote that he had worked up. It looked fine, except for one problem; they expect us to pay for everything upfront. They seem like honest people, but even honest people make honest mistakes. The amount of money that we are talking about here is not chump change and if something wrong were to occur then we would be without much recourse. Besides, in all my many years of home ownership, I rarely pay contractors anything upfront, let alone all of it.

This race to beat the end of the year is a little bit artificial. There will still be a pretty good deal next year, just not quite as good as now. I’ll call them tomorrow and see if we can work something out. I’ll also call Ameren, since they would be paying for half of this system this year and almost as much as us next year. They might have some good advise to give too.

Alternatively, I could take a page from my wife’s regular summer plans and disappear from Saint Louis during the summer months. Shutting down the air conditioner for those hot months might be even more cost-effective than buying solar panels.

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