Aim the energy conservation help directly at the homeowner


To the Editor:

I have watched the debate over ocean wind farms on the Cape from the beginning. First off, I am opposed to their structure within the water areas off Cape or anywhere near land for that matter. They are just plain ugly wherever they stand. Right from day one I have read that they will add little to our need for electricity, and lately that we will pay more for the service.

Essentially, I am an advocate of solar energy and built and designed my house in the early 1980s to make use of the sun, My inspiration came from an old schoolhouse in England that was retrofitted with success. Our house was included as part of the first Vineyard Solar House Tour in 1984. In retrospect, I would do things a little differently today, not due to mistakes but to make better use of passive heat gain. My design project has worked to my satisfaction and has saved me large amounts of money for heat. Considering our lifestyle and some details in construction, my design was never completed as planned, though in 1981, the electric company audit for my house for one year was just under $2,000 based on a conventional home of the same design. Our actual use was $350 for that year.

Concerning all the hoopla surrounding the wind farm, I was a little confused when I read the government planned to subsidize the Cape Cod wind farm project, partial or otherwise, and that we would most definitely see a price increase in our electric bill. My thoughts immediately turned to the individual use of solar panels as a better answer. The only issue I see is that private enterprise has a distaste for this type of project; it would only cut into their revenues. Can you imagine if we could all sell back our electric surplus to the company that serves us. It would be like bringing your coupons to the supermarket for a discount.

It has been the case since solar issues came to the forefront that our government is more than happy to issue tax credits, which is nice if you can afford the initial cost of a solar installation, then use the tax credits on your income tax. A better plan would be to deeply subsidize the individual homeowner with reduced prices for solar installations and materials, not require you to jump through hoops to get a tax credit or, if you’re lucky, a grant. This might allow those who couldn’t otherwise afford the installation, or be able to use a tax credit, to take a smaller 5-10 year investment hit on their personal solar system.

Another reason I prefer solar panels is that they can be adapted to most any individual situation, they are unobtrusive, and could easily be designed to fit a roof line without the ugliness of windmills. Most important, they would give us the freedom of those ever-increasing electric bills. The power of the people, so to speak.

I am sure those in charge of regulating us little guys would never allow this to happen, as the possibility of huge profits would disappear in the wind (sorry another pun I couldn’t resist).

So this is my answer: Reduce the price of solar panels, subsidize companies that install systems, or give government subsidies direct to the homeowner, and we would have a more beautiful sunrise to the east. Might even stimulate the unemployment issues our country is facing.

To sum it all up, cut my idea apart if you can, but after 30 years in my passive solar home, the proof is in the sun, and if I added solar panels to my house my energy use might even drop to minus.

Don Macdonald

West Tisbury