Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Our neighbors just had solar panels installed on their roof and I feel envious every time I pass their house. I didn't feel the same way when the people across the street painted their house or when I saw new flooring going in down the street -  it is the solar that takes my heart.

If we ever own a house again, I am going to have solar and, if the recent study, "Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels," conducted by Bryan Bollinger of the NYU Stern School of Business and Kenneth Gillingham of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, is true, it will be contagious.

The report confirms that, “there is a positive, statistically significant, causal effect of previous nearby installations on a household’s decision to adopt solar panels…A one percent increase in the zip code installed base leads to approximately a one percent increase in the zip code adoption rate.” And at the street level, the study found that a one percent increase in installed solar leads to a nine percent increase in the street adoption rate.

In other words, if one home on the block gets solar, then other homeowners follow.  When the solar company drops the rate for multiple neighborhood installations, the number increases even more substantially.  Here in California, the utility company, PG&E, actually benefits when customers use less energy or go completely off-grid. The company recently invested $61 million in SolarCity and $100 million in SunRun, another solar leasing company.  (I don't really like the leasing thing, but that is another story.)

Most people who install solar do it to save money, seeing my sister's meter running backwards sure sold me on that.  But there is just something about seeing those panels soaking up the natural energy of the sun and using it to power things - it just gets me so excited.  Maybe I should invite our landlords over to see Nancy's meter, or better yet, to see the house down the street with the nice new panels on the roof!

1 comment:

knittergran said...

My daughter has a friend in CA whose parents have just installed solar heating panels. She explained to me how they rent the panels, get the energy and sell excess back to the power company. Sounds like a win/win/win to me!