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Got an extra $80,000?

April 9, 2006

Last fall, I first heard about a program in Ohio for homeowners to get assistance for a residential solar power system. At the time, I was more focused on the hybrid car tax credits – but since a hybrid really isn’t feasible for Carole and I right now (they’re not big enough for us, Sacha, and two pets) I started thinking about solar power off and on.

Ouch. I just spent about an hour pricing out systems online, and it seems like this might be even more unrealistic than the hybrid would be. If we wanted to install a photovoltaic solar system large enough to completely offset our electricity usage, the price tag looks like it would be at least $74,000 just for hardware. Installation, permits, and whatnot would probably push it even higher.

All that just to cut out the $125 we send to AEP every month.

Now, I don’t know if we’re just extremely wasteful of electricity or not. We’ve got a gas oven and gas heat, and we try to turn off lights in rooms that we’re not sitting in. Maybe there’s more that we could do, but even if we cut our consumption down by 20%, that would still only drop the PV system price to $65,000. At $125 per month, it would take us just over 43 years to reach the break-even point, assuming no interest on the installation cost. Will the PV system even last that long?

I’d love to find a way to use less fossil fuels, live green, etc. But with these kind of prices, it’s hard to see a way to make that happen.

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