The Bainbridge Review lauds profusively the soon to be installed single solar panel on Sakaï's roof. Everybody seems happy and grateful but I am concerned by many aspects of this article.
The price of installing one single 1 kWh panel seems to be estimated at $20K. From what I have read that sounds very expansive. It is projected this panel could bring a $400 per year on an annual electric bill of $40K. Investing $20K to recoup $400 is a very bad deal and it is not in line with what most people tell about the return on solar panels. Furthermore I wonder how the school can have an electricity bill of $40K. That looks huge. Then there is the problem of how this panel is financed. Apparently it is paid for by a "grant" from PSE (and Bonneville Power) and a group of concerned citizens has been started to raise private donations to install more panels.
That sounds like a generous effort BUT should'nt the highly profitable power company fund much more than one single panel? When traveling around you can see that in some places (like France) power companies now pay you to install solar panels on your roof (if it is correctly oriented) so in this context, paying for the installation of one single panel does not look very dynamic, more like cheap PR. It is also quite shocking to read that the school board considers this mostly as an educational experience while it should be about really saving energy (and money) on a significant scale. Does the person who made this comment drive an SUV?
Looking at the way the new high school building has been conceived, without any thought given to taking advantage of its south exposure I guess we have still a very long way to go...
One more comment: Proposition 937, the State Renewable Energy Initiative, forces the power companies to invest in renewable energy sources: PSE invests in windfarms, why should not they invest in solar roofs in the middle of our communities -instead of far away windfarms- or at least do both? One single panel does not cut it... not at all.
PPS: and this project in Ohio. Something to talk about with local legislators as much more could be done. OK we don't have as much sun as California but it's not so bad probably as much as Germany (or the North of France)... Also interesting this article about San Francisco and how power companies can be opposed to decentralized solar power and this excellent article from the PI in August 2007.