01 December 2008

Paper Sun

The Hillsborough Township Committee heard a presentation last week by a company proposing to install solar panels on the roof of the municipal complex. This would allow the township to derive a portion of the electricity needed at the complex from a clean energy source - the sun - and also reduce energy costs overall. Maybe.

The problem is that this plan does not yet make sense, either practically, or on paper. In order for the solar company to guarantee savings, a combination of government incentives and credits would be used for the installation, and Hillsborough would be guaranteed a fixed cost on its energy bill.

Sounds good so far, but to make this scheme work the solar company needs to generally have a 20 year contract - or at least a 15 year contract - in order to spread their costs out over time. Hillsborough can only enter into contracts of this type for a maximum of 10 years - thus making the plan unworkable on paper.

Still, sustainable energy from the sun is clearly in our future. And like most succesful plans, it needs to start in our homes and in our town, where we control what it will look like - even if right now it's only a paper sun!

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