Solar Looks Bright on Long Island
Newsday’s recent editorial “Solar Looks Bright on Long Island” published on November 25th, is rightfully optimistic. Every day we grow more confident that solar will be the dominant energy source of the 21st century. Growth in the solar sector is booming because the technology works. Solar also benefits the environment and creates jobs.
Despite a down economy, the total installed capacity of solar power in the U.S. will double in 2011 over last year to over 2 gigawatts. That’s enough to power 400,000 homes or the equivalent of decommissioning five medium sized power plants. As of August, the U.S. solar industry is on track to increase jobs at a rate of 6.8%, compared to the projected 0.7% national jobs growth rate.
The root of our confidence stems from observing the performance of hundreds of systems EmPower has installed in the area through our robust online monitoring portal. Solar works, and it works well. Most of all we know it from our EmPowered clients who enjoy sharing their success stories. Now, in addition to powering homes and buildings, we also are charging electric vehicles.
Another cause for optimism is cost. When we started selling solar energy in 2004 the average gross cost of an average 10 kilowatt residential solar energy system was $85,000 before incentives. That year only a limited number of systems were sold. Today, the same system is approximately $45,000, so the cost has halved in about six years. With LIPA incentives, Federal and State Tax Credits, the net cost is approximately $16,000.
With utility incentives and federal and state tax credits, the average payback is around 5 years, with an 18% annual return on investment. Critically, the proliferation of financing options makes it possible to go solar for zero down, and start saving right away.
Strengthening the economy and improving the environment (public health) are not mutually exclusive objectives. Solar will achieve both, and help us kick our oil addiction habit.
It’s going to be the Solar Century.