30 July 2009

Solar Power Pays

Solar power is coming to central New Jersey - and guess who is paying for it? PSE&G's announcement this week that they have awarded a $200 million contract to Petra Solar to install 200,000 solar panels on utility poles in 300 communities served by the utility comes with a price tag attached. Customers will see their electric bill increase by $1.28 annually the first year, up to to $4.08 annually by 2028.

Small price to pay, right? Maybe. My math tells me something different. The 200,000 solar panels are supposed to supply enough electricity to power 64,000 houses. That works out to 3 or 4 panels per house. And at a cost of just $1000 per panel (200 million divided by 200,000) - heck - I'll just buy 4 myself, take my house completely off the grid, and have the whole thing pay for itself in a couple of years!

Even if the panels actually cost twice that amount, I would still come out way ahead. But that's not how it works. In the crazy world of New Jersey public utilities, we get rate increases to pay for an enormous solar project so that PSE&G can continue to sell us the ALREADY PAID FOR, FREE ELECTRICITY in perpetuity! Yikes!

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