Tuesday, August 23, 2005


That's how much my electric bill was this month. I mention this because, well, I love it. I take every opportunity to mention our solar panels and how much we've saved on our electric bill. I worship solar energy!! But apparently, Our Fair State is not on board with that- or are they?

There was an article in the Times of Trenton yesterday about New Jersey's poor management of incentives being a main reason for our lack of solar production. State Sen. Peter Inverso (R-Hamilton) wants to transfer management of our Renewable Energy program from the Board of Public Utility to the Treasury. Why, you may ask? Well, apparently only 11% of our solar energy projects approved in this state have been completed as of the end of June '04. We need to "refocus efforts... given the lack of results to date."

If you are going to complain about the current state of our progress on any issue, I think you probably should have information that's something approaching "current, " not over a year old. Solar has exploded in Our Fair State, increasing from 6 installations in 2001 to 616 now, according to the BPU. The BPU also cites our clean energy program as a model according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. I suggest the Senator asses new statistics as they come available on the increase of solar usage.

Having navigated the rebate and installation system with the guidance of an experienced solar installer, I found it easy and straightforward. The only evidence I see of Our Fair State not pushing solar power is that most people with whom I've spoken are unaware of the rebate program. Also, the only delay we had in our installation process was with getting our panels due to a world-wide shortage. Germany, in particular, has very substantial incentives and initiatives to increase their solar production, thereby increasing demand for the panels. Inverso should investigate other reasons besides mismanagement before we attack the Board's performance.

The BPU has new initiatives which have just begun, such as the "Power Crop Initiative." I find this extremely cool, especially since the debut installation was at Lee's Turkey Farm in East Windsor, near the Center of NJ. Incentives, investors and credits all cover the initial installation and upkeep costs of installing solar panels on large buildings on farms- no trees! Ideal locations! This is a wonderful program, and some credit should be paid to the BPU.

I appreciate any effort to increase solar use, and I believe that Sen. Inverso wishes to do just that. But at this point it seems premature at best, mistaken at worst to strip the Board of Public Utilities of their authority over solar incentives.


DBK said...

Serious question. What's your average monthly power usage in kW? If you know then it would give me a decent idea of what solar could do for me. Also, did you get the system from the folks at CostCo? They were in CostCo, I guess it was, last month. I took the brochures but haven't done anything with them.

Sharon GR said...

Our usage is approx. 900 kw/month average. I have 36 175 panels, which almost covers my usage right now. My next-door neighbor has a ranch house (more roof space) and higher needs so she has more panels. A good solar contractor should be able to discuss with you what your needs are and what you can produce.

I don't have a Costco nearby, so I'm not sure who they were there. We used Jersey Solar, but we interviewed and got estimates from at least 5 different places. I strongly recommend making a few phone calls and having a couple estimates done. The companies offered different systems and we spent a lot of time researching our options once we had the quotes.

There's a discussion of our system from when we first had it installed here. We love our system and couldn't be happier with the decision to go solar. I can't say it enough- go ahead, make the phone calls and get some quotes.

Sharon GR said...

FAQ from Jersey Solar, which explains a whole lot about the systems.

DBK said...

Thanks. Yeah, Mrs F and I are big on getting bids in, especially with big purchases. Your system sounds similar to the one I discussed with the guy who was at Costco (can't remember the name of the company), which he said would save us $120 a month.

We have a "contemporary Colonial", but it seems like a lot of roof space.

It's weird. On the one hand, energy isn't getting cheaper, so I figure the panels would save us more as time goes on, making the return faster. On the other hand, as the technology gets more popular the cost should go down. So one tactic says I should wait to maximize return and the other says I should buy now. We just put new windows in, which cost a lot, and I was hoping to hold off on big purchases for a little while.