My PV Story
I've always been interested in Photovoltaic power. I had assumed that it was
something out of my reach until one day I was surfing the net and happened upon:
This site led me to the website for Light Energy Systems (http://www.lightenergysystems.com).
That most important thing I learned was that a PV system might be possible. I
learned about California Energy Commission "buy down". The fact the the
incentive had a larger subsidy for early adopters inspired to do some more
research. The Light Energy Systems was good enough to provide enough pricing
information for me to get started. Light Energy also had a very nice program
that allowed me to pay the $75 for a site visit to get an estimate. I had them
I made a math error when I initially looked at the cost of systems versus
capacity. I was off by a factor 10. I thought a system was going to produce 10x
the power at given price point. At that price performance a system was a
no-brainer. I started learning more and was proceeding to make a system happen.
When I discovered my error things slowed down a little bit. But in retrospect,
the error was fortuitous, the fire was lit, I knew that a PV system was
possible. I went back to analyzing the economic model to justify the cost of the
The economic puzzle was solved in several pieces.
First problem was the opportunity cost of the capital I would put in to the
system. I realized I didn't have to use any of my investments to fund the
system. I could put the equity of the house to work. This basically converted
the cost to a stream of payments for the lifetime of the loan.
The final piece was the realization that I didn't have to have a payback in the
traditional sense. I had initially valued the system only for the energy it was
going to produce, I realized this incorrect. First, the system I wanted had a
battery back up, that additional functionally above grid power.
The second "feature" is green power! People pay extra money for organic food,
for "fair trade" coffee, etc. The other realization is people drive around
$80,000 sports car and no one ever asks what the pay back is car purchase.
The bottom line was I was looking at around $100 extra expense per month to get
battery backed up green power. That was a much easier decision.