Monday, September 15, 2008

Dick Cheney does not approve this message

As we all know, the real key to our energy future lies in DRILLING FOR MORE OIL OFFSHORE! Papa EXXON-Mobil will give us the loving care we need, if only we let it! But bear with me as I address solar power for a moment...

The biggest hurdle with installing solar panels on your home, even if you live in a really sunny place, is financing. Although the panels could very well eliminate your electricity bills--and eventually pay for themselves in savings--you still have to borrow the $22,000, or whatever it is (depending on the state), to pay for them. And what happens if you want to sell the house before the loan is paid off?

The city of Berkeley, California has found a solution. If you're a resident, they'll give you an ultra-low interest loan for the solar panel installation, and you pay them back over 20 years, in conjunction with your property tax payments. If someone buys your house, the new owners take on the payments with the city. It basically makes solar energy a no-brainer for people in Berkeley. Because now, in many cases, the cost of paying for a solar panel loan will be less per month for homeowners than their electricity bills were. (In Berkeley, the loan payments will be $180 per month, on average. This is a place where most heating and cooling is done through electric heat pumps, so the average power bill at least matches that. And consider: electricity bills will continue to rise quite a bit over the next 20 years, while the monthly rate on this loan won't. What's the total monthly cost of your electricity and heating bills?)