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Is Going Green Too Expensive?

What is true cost of going green?  This question seems to be a common one for many consumers today, espescially in a possibly worsening economic climate.  Is the benefit worth the cost and when does this tipping point occur?

What caused this reflection was an article by USA Today titled "Going green can cost too much green."  In this article, written by Alan Gomez, numerous stories were told of governmental agencies cutting back on renewable power source consumption because of their higher costs than traditional power sources.  Citing a statistic from the Electric Power Research Institute solar power costs on average $171 per megawatt while coal only $64.  This price disparity causes local municipalities and federal agencies to think twice of converting their energy portfolio, especially in a time of shrinking tax bases and budget cuts.

The article did provide solutions being experimented on by power utilites across the country.  For example, Georgia Power, a power utility in state of Georgia, is reducing the cost for large consumers.  This allowed numerous state clients to retain green energy while providing profits for the company.  But what of smaller clients?

The average cost to install a solar system on a house can run anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000.  This amount of money seems astronomical for many Americans.  Federal government funds are trying to ease this burden with up to a 30 percent tax rebate for the installation of such systems.  To find out about rebate programs in your area visit www.dsire.com.

Another possible alternative is to reduce your goal in going "green."  A solar thermal system provides many of the benefits of solar power with a lower cost.  A solar thermal system heats ware using the sun and circulates it through the residence where it is installed.  These systems cost anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 dollars and are also subject to 30 percent rebates.

The key then may be to see the path to renewable technologies as not binary, either you invest or you do not.  It may actually be best to take a measured approach.  Do what you can now and then expand upon this base in the future.  This approach does require sacrifices, but if all parties contribute this new era can begin even if not at the pace preferred.

Comments

Catch 22

This is such a catch-22. It seems to make so much sense, economically, to invest in green tech now. It'll save us on costs down the road. But in today's climate, it's hard to even find the capitol to make those investments large and small. What to do?

Well....

As most visitors can see I don't really inject my opinion (or try not to) in most of the posts I do.  I would say in general it is a good investment currently, but I do worry about debt.  If the government becomes too leveraged it will be unable to fulfil comittments to green technology.  Espescially true if certain countries *cough* China, Japan *cough* stop buying US debt.  But, if we can prioritize these investments then we may be able to create infrastructure (like the 1930's) and business incentive (like the 1980's) to control the shape of this revolution in industry.  This may seem not as important today but will pay dividends in the future.  Much more important to the structual deficet is entitlement programs then this one time investment so all this must be placed in context.

Sean Fitzpatrick is a burgeoning green entrepreneur and journalist with a juris doctor from Santa Clara University, School of Law. Currently, he is business development and community manger of KeenForGreen.com.

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