Let's pretend that you own 5 acres of vacant land near Oriskany. A dairy farmer approaches you and asks if he can graze some cows on your land for free for 20 years. In return, you promise to buy milk from the farmer for 20 years. . . You are told that at current prices you could save $12,000 a year. (You really love dairy products!) Is this a good deal? or bad deal?
A reader wrote that something unusual was going on over some land in Oriskany near the old County Airport. . . but instead of grazing cows, it was solar panels.
A February Rome Sentinel article revealed that Oneida County made a deal with a company called Solar City -- to allow Solar City to install almost 7,000 solar panels that it owns on 5 acres of county land and keep them there for 20 years to make electricity. In return the county agrees to buy power from Solar City for 20 years. . . . Under current market conditions the county expects to save $12,000 a year. Is this a good deal? or bad deal?
Per the Sentinel: "in exchange, the county agrees to buy power from SolarCity, usually at a lower rate than they would pay a conventional utility."
The milk deal is pretend -- the solar deal is real. If you were considering the milk deal what questions would you ask? If you were considering the solar deal, wouldn't you ask similar questions?
The deal with Solar City was approved by the O.C. Legislature back on February 12 by a unanimous vote. Per the ocgov.net website, the legislators were presented with an "expedited communication" outlining the agreement that had been sent to the County Executive only a few days earlier. Although the letter to the C.E. says that the service agreement is attached, what was attached to the communication given to the legislators via the website was only an outline.
If you were asked to give up 5 acres of land for 20 years wouldn't you want to read the contract yourself before going forward? Wouldn't you want time to research the company and think about what could change in the next 20 years before signing on the dotted line?
The Better Business Bureau has rated the company A+, though an article on CaliforniaWatchdog.org regarding homeowner project horror stories would make me at least want to review the fine print of any contract.
Perhaps more concerning is the fact that there seems to be a "bandwagon" for this and similar "green" projects that is driven by Federal and State incentives. How likely will this continue? Should it continue?
Some people point to Germany as a model for green energy. The Germans have been at this for a long time. However the headline of a recent article in der Spiegel says it all: Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.
The German consumers are waking up to the fact that they've been sold a bill of goods with "green energy" and now must reduce their standard of living. Are we next?
Yesterday's Sentinel had an update on the solar panel project ... It also notes that Solar City will be building a solar manufacturing facility in Buffalo. Read the deal the state is giving to Solar City . . .
There is something a lot bigger than "green energy" going on here. Can you figure it out? Stay tuned . . .