October 21, 2009

Dreaming of Hydroelectric and Solar Leasing

Just got off the phone with Dale Cronan, Assistant Director of Concord Municipal Light Plant (CMLP). We discussed the future of renewable energy sources in the Concord community.

Team California's solar-powered house
at this month's inspiring bi-yearly
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Photo: Stefano Paltera

Dale is committed to greening the electricity in Concord. Currently, he is working on hydro and wind power opportunities, in order to increase the percentage of Concord's electricity that originates from renewable sources. THE CONCORD GREEN HOME was going to participate in a new hydroelectric program that was due to come online at the end of this year, however Dale informed me that CMLP is now simply folding renewable sources into all residential service. So instead of a few houses being really green and paying more for their kilowatts, everyone will be a little greener and share the cost.

How hydroelectric power works.
Courtesy of USGS.gov's Water Science for Schools

Like approximately 40 other towns in the state of Massachusetts, CMLP is an independent provider of electricity. This allows greater local control of power sourcing and distribution. However, it limits residents' access to state-provided financial incentives for purchasing solar photovoltaics for their roof or land.

The good news is that there is a seachange happening in solar, and CMLP is working to figure out a way that Concord residents can participate. Instead of an outlay of tens of thousands of dollars, consumers would have the option of leasing solar equipment, for as low as a one-time $1,000 fee, in exchange for a long-term commitment with the solar provider.

Can't Afford Solar Panels? Lease Them.
Courtesy of CBS Evening News.

Solar leasing is a bit like the business model evolution that transformed the cell phone industry -- from selling $4,000 phones to renting them or even giving them away for free when you signed up for a two-year lease. Hopefully, one day, clean, renewable electricity sources will be just as ubiquitous as the cell phone.

Rudy Krolopp, lead designer of the first cell phone,
with a 2 lb., half-hour talk time DynaTAC8000X, and a more recent model.

Courtesy of MSNBC.com.

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