Another example of why alternative energy can be tough sell.
THOSE SOLAR PANELS on top of (Beloit) City Hall look all cool and high-tech, and presumably will win Beloit a few plaudits for going green and demonstrating environmental sensitivity.
But what about the math?
According to numbers provided to the Daily News by City Hall, the project carried a price tag of about $180,000. The 125 solar panels will produce a trickle of electricity — about 30 kilowatts at peak performance. Projections call for the panels to reduce the City Hall utility costs 8-9 percent, somewhere in the range of maybe $3,500 a year.
CRUNCH THOSE NUMBERS and this is what you get: Return on investment, or payback, will take more than 50 years.
And, by the way, the system is designed to last around 40 years.
In a nutshell, this is why alternative energy has such a tough time catching on in America. This is a bottom-line country, where hard-nosed business types crunch numbers with ferocity. Investments are made because the numbers add up and there’s a reasonable plan for a solid return. Sentimentality and wishful thinking don’t make the cut.
So solar panels with weak payback or electric cars that conk out every 40 miles have a tough time finding a market in the private sector.
Instead, panels wind up on government roofs.
What’s next? Electric fire engines?