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Travis Creswell, Ozark Solar

We are dealing with a consciousness shift here, folks. That is why the change to renewables is so much more complicated than what seems to be so obvious to us. Again, 70+ percent of what I end up doing is education of the customer. Too bad the schools don't teach people to think outside the box better.

Todd Cory, Bald Mountain Solar, Mt. Shasta, California [email protected]

Another angle on payback is to ask people how much they paid for their car (often about the same as a PV system). Then ask how many hours a day they operate their car. And how many hours a day they plan to operate electrical items in their home (if it's stand-alone), or how many hours the sun shines (if it's intertied). Further, you can ask how long their car will last, and how long the PVs will last...

Steve Willey, Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, Sandpoint, Idaho [email protected]

To hell with all this pandering to customer queries on payback. When they say that PV is too expensive, I simply ask, "Compared to what?"

Larry Elliott, Ion Technologies/Solar Tech, Bonanza, Oregon [email protected]

Kurt Nelson, SOLutions

Mo Rousso, Urban Refuge

Jay Peltz, Peltz Power

Kurt Nelson, SOLutions

Looking at the bigger picture, short-term thinking for financial gain, largely driven by bean counters, has landed the world in an environmental mess. Those who look for payback continue to perpetrate the same ethos that caused the problem in the first place. Those who choose solar energy regardless of the short-term benefit (or lack thereof) take a responsible position, and break the cycle of greed that has driven environmental irresponsibility.

In New Zealand, with no government subsidies, the systems take 100 years to "pay back" if you simply compare current KWH value generated to all the costs associated with putting in, commissioning, and maintaining a system. I point out that a roof-integrated, solar-electric system requires minimal maintenance and will pay for itself more than twice over during its lifetime. The rest of the roof will never pay for itself, will have one-third of the life, and will require considerable maintenance.

Carl Emerson, Freepower, Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand [email protected]

Very good thread indeed! I'll tell you all something I realized the other day, as I was flying over Kansas in a single engine plane at about 1,000 feet. We flew over house after house

Mo Rousso, Urban Refuge with pools in the backyard. I couldn't help but notice that it's things like those backyard pools that we are competing with.

We are asking the average guy with a wife and 2.3 kids to make a choice between a solar energy system, with its very intangible benefits, and that pool—something his entire family can enjoy. I doubt many "average" families can afford both. As a father of a young child with another on the way, I realized that given the choice between the pool and more solar panels, I'd choose the pool every time, and I'm pretty green. What does that say about "average Americana"?

Travis Creswell, Ozark Solar, Neosho, Missouri • [email protected]

I stick with the fact that renewables are cost effective right now. The reason they don't seem to add up economically is that they are being asked to compete on an unlevel playing field. Fossil and nuclear fuels are heavily subsidized, and neither are paying the environmental costs associated with them.

These aren't just make-believe numbers. We are all paying for those cheap watts and gallons in places other than the meter and the gas pump. Acid rain alone is estimated to cost over eight billion dollars every

Jay Peltz, Peltz Power year, and what price can we put on Desert Storm? Add to this the fact that our reliance on fossil fuels has long been referred to as a giant pipeline of dollars out of our country, while dollars spent on renewable energy remain at work in our local economy.

Kurt Nelson, SOLutions, Cornucopia, Wisconsin [email protected]

Here's my question: Sure I give the customer many angles to make the system cost effective. But how many people run into problems when you suggest, "Well, it's cheaper to reduce than to produce. We need to get you a new fridge, washer, lights, etc." Then I show them the math, and it's like major blank time. Just wondering what you all have run into.

Jay Peltz, Peltz Power, Redway, California • [email protected]

I did my first project, a 3 kilowatt, batteryless, grid-tied system, for an 89-year-old woman. She did not do this because of "payback." She did it because she wanted to stick it to San Diego Gas & Electric, and she derived the value of her money from how she used it.

Mo Rousso, Urban Refuge, Inc., Fallbrook, California [email protected]

Holt E. Kelly, Holtek Fireplace & Solar Products

I think the task at hand in defining payback is not economic but cultural. This from a letter a potential client wrote explaining why he and his family decided not to install a renewable energy system: " ...we have decided that we do not want to make the changes necessary."

The "changes" were efficiency measures to reduce loads. They did not want to "sacrifice" an electric water heater for a solar one, and did not want to look at that "ugly color" of compact fluorescent light. Payback? Just remember: "We do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children." (Chief Seattle)

Holt E. Kelly, Holtek Fireplace & Solar Products, Waco, Texas [email protected]

With PV being called "too expensive" by many in this country, I ask them to look at the September

II attack on the WTC and tell me: "What is the real cost of a barrel of Middle Eastern crude oil"?

Bob Maynard, Energy Outfitters, Cave Junction, Oregon [email protected]

A typical, PV powered, off-grid home uses five to fifteen percent of the electricity of a conventional home that has utility power. This is not accomplished by forgoing modern

Bob Maynard, Energy Outfitters

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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