Solar Obstacles

It really doesn’t matter who wins the nobel peace prize, the fact is the type of societies we’ve developed around the planet are not prepared and doing relatively little to truly counter their excessive energy use and polluting. While I realize some parts of the world are better than others at preparing, today I’m thinking of my homestate of New Jersey.

Mom called a few days ago and mentioned how unbearably high the power and heat costs are just to keep our family home going. She and dad still live in the house I grew up in, which happens to be in an area of New Jersey that pays amazingly high property tax, and mind boggling energy costs. Of course these homes are built in such a way that they cost alot to just maintain basic utilities.. the wonders of suburbia.

So mom says she’s interested in solar power for heating and hot water. Which of course reminds us both of grandma and grandpa’s house in Portugal.. located in a tiny village. Even as far back as 1989 I remember that they had solar panels on the roof, which were for hot water. Amazing to consider that my grandparents weren’t even environmental activists, it was just a relatively common practice, almost 20 years ago, to get solar panels to heat water throughout Portugal.

My mother’s fear, of course, like many working citizens throughout the world, is if changing her energy system to solar is affordable? She worries of the costs for solar panels, that they might bring a tremendous financial burden. Word amongst her friends is that its too expensive. Once again note the problem with such street wisdom, it is 2007 and we know enough about the planet to know we should use less energy, and yet in a state as modern and populous as New Jersey… the average person writes off getting solar energy because of the cost? This should not be so.

I’ve begun the process of researching what the steps would be, and even as a relatively smart person, I’m getting confused already. Apparently it takes 60 days, for example, to actually get solar panels that are approved by the state and ready to be used. You would figure, considering the state of the world, that the state or local government would have some kind of tax break or financial assistance to help people go solar. So far it seems, THEY DO. If you can figure out the system and fill out the right forms, and indeed, put up the money for the system… the state of New Jersey will cover 40% of the costs.

Still I’m not convinced about the process if a government, be it national, provincial, or local, is serious about reducing the amount of energy people use and helping citizens use alternative sources. And without the support of government, it will be even more difficult to change the mentality of a population that always comes back to the issue of cost in the form of money. But let’s see what more research can dig up, maybe my mom and dad will be able to go solar sooner rather than later.