Yardley Voice – Going Green Solar Column – July 2012
by Mark Bortman
The other day, I almost fell off my chair! I was leafing through the newspaper and noticed an ad for a big flat-screen TV. I couldn’t believe how low the prices have become.
A few years ago, I really wanted one – they were new and cool and flashy and a must-have for anyone who likes to be on the cutting edge of technology. But, boy, were they expensive. What a difference a few years makes.
Not surprisingly, I get a similar reaction when I talk about solar panels.
Usually the conversation starts with “I thought about solar panels a few years ago” or “I have a friend who got solar panels a few years ago.” The key phrase is, of course, “a few years ago.”
As with many new technologies, a lot can change in just a few years. For example, a solar electric system that cost over $35,000 a few years ago would cost around $10,000 today.
Back then I never imagined that I’d be saying this – but now the cost for electricity produced by solar panels is less than what you pay PECO. With a solar lease, you can lock in a rate that is about half of what you’re paying PECO.
In 2008, there were about 200 solar electric systems in the whole state of Pennsylvania. Now there are more than 4000. This increase in scale in Pennsylvania, along with the corresponding increases in other parts of the country and the world, has helped to gain economies and bring down the price.
Despite the growth in solar, there is still a long way to go.
Solar panels produce just a tiny fraction of the electricity we use. Most of the electricity in our state comes from burning coal, which means removing mountaintops and sending thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air.
This does not need to be the case – one day last month, solar provided 50% of the electricity used in Germany.
With solar panels less expensive than ever, it is an option to consider. As I like to say, solar makes sense – it makes sense for the environment and it makes sense for your bank account.