Eight Compelling Reasons to Buy a Solar Roof

MOTHER EARTH NEWS sheds light on eight environmentally-sound reasons to buy a solar roof.

| February/March 2002

Learn about eight reasons to buy a solar roof.

1. Personal and national security. The more we tap solar and other renewable energy sources, the less dependent we are on utility giants and nonrenewable fossil fuels. There are many good reasons to buy a solar roof. Solar roofs can even be used to charge electric vehicles, which will reduce pollution and decrease our need for foreign oil.

2. Protection against price increases. Electricity prices in many states are increasing. In California a combination of deregulation, population growth, increased consumer demand and construction of fewer new power plants caused electricity costs to skyrocket. Other states are watching similar trends and expect prices to increase in the coming years. With nuclear power plants being decommissioned or phased out because of the high costs and high risks related to nuclear waste disposal, and with the best hydroelectric sources tapped, new sources of electricity are needed. Even though many new gas-fired power plants have been constructed, some analysts see natural gas shortages emerging that will require expensive drilling and pipeline construction. This points to higher natural gas prices rippling across to electricity prices.

3. Rebates. Some states are finally getting serious about supporting renewable energy options. Government rebates, tax credits and grants can cut the cost of your solar roof by up to 60 percent in some areas. To learn what's available in your state, go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), www.DSIREUSA.org.

4. Selling back peak power to the grid via net-metering. Net-metering rules and regulations are in place in 34 states, allowing homeowners to run their electrical meters backward when they send electricity to the grid from a solar-electric rooftop. When the homeowner uses electricity from the grid at night or on cloudy days, the meter runs forward. The monthly bill is based on the net difference.

Distributed electrical generation provides more security for homeowners and for the electrical network (the grid). Generating cleaner, locally produced electricity reduces the load on the grid and can also jump-start the formation of local public utilities. These nonprofit utilities are run by a locally elected board for public benefit, in contrast to investor-owned utilities that are run for private profit.

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