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1775Re: [hreg] Why is this so hard for politicians to understand?

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  • Kevin L. Conlin
    Dec 10, 2002
      Sorry, Steve, we're not all as enlightened as you, but if you took a moment to jab, why not share the new term with us ignorant folk?
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 4:40 PM
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Why is this so hard for politicians to understand?

      Not to get involved in a bunch of useless rhetoric but the term "payback"  is more than obsolete.
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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 1:15 PM
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Why is this so hard for politicians to understand?

      I think we are looking at this problem in the way we have always looked at investments in renewables - payback.  What is the payback on the convention center itself?  On the air conditioning system? Other major components?  I'm willing to bet that no one even asked those questions.  We continue to let simple economics rule every decision in our lives without regard for the intangibles such as quality of life and air quality enter the equation.  And we call this an advanced society!
      Why do we saddle ourselves with the perceptions of those who are adamantly apposed to renewables.  We are going to war to insure a reliable source of non renewable energy without taking into account the horrendous cost of doing business as usual.  Enter the subsidized costs of coal, nuclear and oil and the equation for renewable suddenly looks much better.  Add quality of life and global warming issues and it looks very attractive.  We do not have to play by their rules and rebut their arguments, that is the strategy embedded industries have used for decades to keep solar out of the mainstream. 
      We should follow the example being set by Europe and Japan, who are not capitalist societies and consider social value on par with economic value.  Some of the smallest countries in Europe are now generating a sizable portion of their electricity with wind, and are well on the road to economic and energy independence.  They don't have to sacrifice their sons to keep warm either.
      As renewable enthusiasts we have to stop making every decision and argument we make based on economics.  That is not the way the world works. This argument has been used successfully for years against renewable and we have to be smart enough to not fall into that trap until we can quantify the intrinsic value of renewables as well as  the external costs of fossil fuels, such as fighting wars over oil; cancer,global warming, air quality and related diseases such as chronic sinusitis,(which half of Houston suffers from); environmental costs of decommissioning coal mines and nuclear plants and economic hardships caused by a widening balance of trade led by energy imports.
      We have a lot to learn from the courageous examples of people we feel superior to.
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Sunday, December 08, 2002 11:24 PM
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Why is this so hard for politicians to understand?

      Second, in response to R.Redford's message, we have to think about how to finance the capital costs of renewable energy projects.  Like the San Francisco project, they are projecting to reduce energy costs by $200,000 annually, but the debt payment is probably much higher than that, so there is no real savings.  Higher costs are OK for demonstration projects, but they won't enter the mainstream.  Solar PV cells need about a five fold reduction in cost before they can economically compete with mainstream residential grid power.  How can we get PV costs down?

      Actually the last sentence of the Redford message (below) says that this project will return $200,000 per year on a $5.2MM investment AFTER DEBT SERVICE IS SUBTRACTED, which I interpret to mean that it pays $200,000 per year after principle and interest have been paid, which is a 3.85% annual return (profit) on the total investment. Or am I reading the statement wrong? But if it is true, maybe we should look into the possibilities of the Vote Solar initiative (www.votesolar.org) that Redford recommends, whereby other cities should follow San Francisco's example.

      San Francisco's first solar project, a $5.2 million energy-efficiency upgrade at the Moscone Convention Center, was dedicated last month. What's the straight economic benefit of this particular project? Plenty. The upgrades and the panels combined will cut energy consumption in the building by as much as 38 percent, and the project will pay for itself from energy savings. The net savings to taxpayers after debt service is subtracted are projected to be more than $200,000 a year. ...

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