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.
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