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Solar energy pays off in the end

March 21, 2012

Once again we were thankful for the photovoltaic (solar electricity) system we installed on our roof in 2001. Due to an accident with a sewer hookup, the electricity in our area was disrupted Thursday morning. I didn't even realize the power was out until around 8:30 p.m. when I walked outside to marvel at the ongoing efforts of SCE, and I realized that we were the only home with electricity! Similarly, during the power outage in December we were able to watch TV, use our computers and enjoy central heat.

My purpose in writing is to suggest that for those who are vulnerable and have the resources, a home solar electricity system can be a wise investment.

The cost is less than most new cars purchased by La Cañada residents, and with federal tax credits and rebates, we figured our investment was paid off in seven or eight years. Our electricity bill runs $400 to $600 a year, despite judicious but comfortable central air conditioner settings in the summer (yes, we are connected to the SCE “grid”). For those who are steadfastly unmoved by a concern for climate change, perhaps you would be moved by self-preservation — it's really nice to open your refrigerator and run your washing machine whenever you feel the need.

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One caution: In recent years many solar installers discourage “battery backup”—battery arrays that charge during the day to support your electricity needs at night. I simply would not put in a photovoltaic system that did not include these batteries. One of the “perks” of having a photovoltaic system is having electricity available after the sun goes down!

Sandra Wallace

La Cañada Flintridge

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