McNellis Shines Sunlight on Solar

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This statement is misleading in such a sweet, hopeful way as to cause one to suspect that, rather than intending to fib or overstate, its authors simply understand nothing about business. Yes, a solar energy system that lowers operating costs and increases net income may raise a property’s value, but the authors ignore the system’s cost; a $100,000 increase in property value from a $200,000 energy system is but another on-ramp to the road to financial ruin. And any income gain may be more than offset by required maintenance and repairs to the system. (Have you ever noticed how many of those windmills at Altamont Pass are inoperative at any given time?)

Everyone wants solar power to succeed and hopefully it will one day. But if it’s going to rise beyond its current status as an expensive green boondoggle—if the science is going to advance to where solar energy is truly an economic investment—sharing its real cost and limitations today is essential. Each developer burned by solar power will complain to his industry associates. And they in turn will avoid making his mistake—at the cost of the greater mistake of refusing solar energy when it finally does make financial sense.

Editor’s note: As a public service, The Registry invites its readers to submit details on their own financial experience—actual total net cost and annual savings—with solar-power systems. Assuming a useful cross sample, it will publish the results in a forthcoming article.

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