AZ Solar Initiative, part II
Thanks to extension of a federal tax grant, solar remains attractive to building ownersBy Bart Taylor
After we published a column in December based on the law journal article “Solar Industry’s Cloudy Future,” by Robert Glennon and Andrew M. Reeves of the University of Arizona, we were contacted by Robert Hoskins, executive director of the Arizona Solar Power Society. Hoskins had some counterpoints to the article, and we continue the conversation here.
PPR: You make an economic case to embrace renewable energy and only secondarily, it seems to me, offer an environmental rationale. Is there a difference in the end?
Robert Hoskins: Recently there has been a lot of debate on whether global warming is a real threat. I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but for the people who live and drive toward downtown Phoenix everyday there is definite visual proof that air pollution in Arizona is a growing problem. The brown cloud that continues to thicken and engulf the Phoenix skyline now has Arizona residents comparing Phoenix’s growing air pollution problem to the one that many wanted to leave behind in Los Angeles.
In the past, the only way solar marketers could get customers to consider paying the exorbitant price tag of installing solar was to use the emotional plea of saving the Planet Earth – no matter what the cost. The main roadblock that prevented customers from going solar used to be the cost of installing solar power arrays.
Several years ago the cost for solar panels was in the $8 to $10 per watt range, but over the past two years the cost for solar panels has dropped down to $2 to $3 per watt. This allowed many solar installation companies to switch from the emotional sale to a mathematical one that focused on dollars and cents.
At the end of 2010, President Obama helped out even more by extending the federal 30 percent solar tax grant until the end of 2011 and made it possible for commercial building owners to write off 100 percent of the cost of installing solar systems during the first year of operation. Building owners and certified public accounts agree that it is much better to install a solar system and write off the cost than it is to pay taxes to the federal government at the end of the year.
There is no real separation between installing solar to save money on monthly electricity bills and installing solar to reduce the millions of tons of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury that are being emitted into Arizona’s airwaves. Going solar for either reason is the right thing to do for a multitude of reasons.
The good news for everyone is that for the time being it is affordable to install a solar system and do your part to save Planet Earth. Even if customers cannot afford the out-of-pocket investment, there are many solar lease programs that allow anyone to install solar a solar system with zero or very little money down.
About Bart Taylor
Bart Taylor is the publisher of Planet-Profit Report.