Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A good investment?

I saw an article in the Record last week about Teaneck installing solar panels on some of its municipal buildings. I find it astonishing that this project is moving forward in this economy. Here's the interesting math from the article: the solar panels will cost a total of $615,000 to install. And the annual cost savings will be $9,200. So the panels will have paid for themselves in just over 66 years. (Will those panels even still be there in 66 years? I highly doubt it!)

Yes, yes, Teaneck also says it plans to sell energy credits back to public utilities, to generate income. This is pretty speculative. They think they'll be able to generate $30,000 a year, but there are no guarantees of that. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they can realize $39,200 per year in either income or savings. That still means over 15 years to pay for the solar panels, which probably will need to be replaced before then!

I bring this up because occasionally someone will ask why the Ridgewood schools aren't looking into solar panels at our schools. Actually, the Facilities Committee has looked into it and, as Teaneck has proven, the return on investment is ridiculously low. Our district has focused, instead, on energy conservation. Thanks to programs like our relationship with Energy for America, which monitors our buildings and regulates boilers for maximum efficiency, the district has reduced energy usage by 30% over the past 10 years or so. I think that makes a lot more sense than spending cash (which we don't have, by the way) for minimal savings.


Anonymous said...


You forgot to factor in the money that they could receive from the state and federal government. With this money, the outlay for the Teaneck is about $250K...

Assuming the money is awarded, the net cost of the installation will be just under $250,000.

I applaud the 'green' efforts of Ridgewood, but still feel that solar could be a solution.

Thank you.

Laurie said...

I didn't forget...I think it is appropriate to look at the actual total cost vs. the payback. I realize that Teaneck is only paying part of the cost, but the total is being paid by somebody aka taxpayers in the form of state grants and Federal stimulus money. The fact is, the system costs $615,000 and pays for itself in a long, long time.