I’m not a tree hugger. I’m a money hugger; it is saving money that has led me to go green. Improving the environment was not my primary motivation.
The Antelope Valley, where I live in Southern California, is a desert—part of the Mojave Desert, to be precise, and home to Edward’s Air Force Base and the Mojave Air and Space Port where SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years now and because we are a desert, we have very few cloudy days. In fact, we have more than 350 days a year that are not cloudy. Thus, this area is ideal for making use of solar power.
The Lancaster School District (for whom my wife works as a third grade elementary school teacher), along with the local community college (Antelope Valley College) and several private schools, businesses, hospitals, and other government buildings have converted to solar power. The simple reason for this is not because of concern for the environment so much as concern for their pocketbooks. By having solar panels installed, the Lancaster School District has saved literally millions of dollars annually on electric costs. And they managed this without spending a dime.
How? By leasing the panels. While ideally one would simply purchase and install solar panels, the upfront cost of them is still prohibitive for most individuals and businesses. But companies such as Solar City, Verango, and Vivant allow businesses and homeowners to enter into a lease agreement. The lease is usually for twenty years, which oddly bothers some people; I simply ask: is there some point in the next twenty years that you’re not going to be wanting to have electricity any more? You weren’t locked into paying Southern California Edison a certain amount of money for the rest of your life in order to keep your television and toaster running?
The advantage of Solar City, Verango, or Vivant—or any of their competitors—is that they charge much less than what Southern California Edison charges you for electricity. And that’s the reason to go with them: you save money. It’s really not complicated and from my perspective seems to be a nobrainer. Where before I was paying Edison 250 dollars every month (I was on a level pay plan), I now pay Edison about 1.50 per month and Vivant—my solar power provider—anywhere from 50 to 120 dollars per month. The math isn’t very difficult, you see; by going solar I cut my electric costs in half, at least, sometimes more.
To me, that seems like a good thing. Saving the planet, cutting the amount of money that might go to foreign nations with social structures and governments that I find reprehensible is a nice plus on top of the cash savings.