Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Solar Energy and Political Math Tricks

There is a new solar panel structure at Monterey County’s Laurel Yard Complex in Salinas, California. The Energy.gov post boasts that it will save the county $222,000 in energy costs in the first five years and at least $18,800 in the sixth year.

What? $222,000 over five years is $44,000 a year. Why the drop to $18,800?

The Monterey CAO Weekly Report for the week of September 10, 2012 gives more information about the project. That $222,000 in savings includes a $27,600 a year rebate for the first five years. That means that $44,000 a year savings is really $16,400 a year. Also, the solar panel structure was a $1 million dollar project funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

That rebate is part of Energy Incentive Programs in California. It costs $3.1 billion from 2010 through 2012 and was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. This means tax dollars spent on rebates.

I have not yet found how the real estimated savings of $16,400 will jump to $18,800 in the sixth year. Maybe there is a new rebate that kicks in.

The statement that $222,000 will be saved in the first five years is ludicrous. It is like the missing dollar riddle. The savings statement is a false statement.

Since the ARRA and rebate money comes from the government, the money comes from the consumers and the people through tax dollars. Through the rebate program the people are paying $27,600 a year to save $16,400. The solar plant is now running at a loss of $11,200 a year. If there was no rebate then it would be saving money after 61 years of operation, the amount of time it takes to save $1,000,000 at $16,400 a year.

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