I think I hit a nerve with this go green conversation. Several people wrote after the last post. Some said, “Egads, I’m going in circles too, I just want someone to tell me what to do.” Others said, “Hey, I’ve got some swell ideas. Check out these links.”
So I figured, why not mash people up and get everyone talking to each other. Because, as we all know, it takes a (blogger) village.
First there is Elya. She sent me an email—she already drives an electric car, and now she and Jon want to convert their house to renewable energy. They are smack in the middle of unraveling the solar panel question(s): How much? How long? Who installs? Do we still get a bill from the utility? Do they pay us for generating energy?
Elya is super smart. She’s an attorney and loves to make graphs and do research. She understands things like upfront costs, tax credits, financing and break-even points. I, on the other hand, make my decisions in a different way. Do I like the color? Does it make me feel good? Does it contribute to world peace? It’s a good thing there are both Elyas and Davias in this world!
Here’s what Elya’s found so far. The start-up cost for Tesla Solar panels is $17,000. Hefty. The federal government will give you $7,500 in tax credits (don’t quote me, but I think that means that if you owe $8,500 in taxes, you subtract $7,500 and pay $1,000 in taxes. But like I said, this part is not my strong suit). Okay, $9,500 is a bit more manageable, but Elya currently pays very little in taxes, so the tax credit deal is useless to her. She told me it would take them eight years to break even. For people who can take advantage of the credit, it takes five years. She and Jon checked out another company whose start-up cost is $20,000 but has better financing. They’re still pondering their next move.
Elya asked me if California offered incentives for solar power. I shrugged my shoulders. Don’t know. But I bet Madam Google knows, so I searched around online. I still don’t know the definitive answer, but it seems like the feds are the only ones giving incentives.
I did find this definitive information, however: California–for all its renewable energy bravado–is knee deep in oil. Makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it? But it is slowly weaning off dirty and onto clean energy. Here’s what else I learned:
- California is one of the top producers of crude oil in the nation, accounting for 6% of total U.S. production in 2016.
- California has the third largest share of petroleum reserves and is the third largest producer of petroleum in the U.S. after Texas and North Dakota
- California’s non-CO2 emitting electric generation categories (large hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable generation) accounted for 50%of total in state generation compared to 40% in 2015.
Elya’s roof remains naked at this writing. But that’s not the point of this post. I’m here to get us talking. To get us thinking about our lights and water and gas and oil and wind and sun. To get us up and out and in action. I’m not an expert. I’m not a scientist. My name is Davia, my favorite color is blue, and it feels good to be talking, listening, and taking action.