Stimulus: Stupid solar investment pays off in 70 years, panels dead in 40

What a way to spend $179,00. Not only is funding this project completely unconstitutional, it’s a flat out bad investment even if it was paid for local government dollars or private funding. Roger Meiners takes a look at the return on investment for a solar installation at a fish hatchery in Montana.

This is what is referred to by Obama and company as stimulus dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advances in technology that will provide better, cheaper energy alternatives, but this is not the way to go about the process. I’ll even argue that it’s setting back progress specifically because companies selling alternatives like these solar panels know there will be federal stimulus funding, outright grants, and tax rebate schemes available that will subsidize the sale of their products and allow them to sell technology that is five or ten years old … at a profit.

All because it’s good public relations and makes people feel good about themselves.

So what’s the deal at the fish hatchery? From Meiners opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, with my emphasis in bold.

The fish hatchery uses about 34,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity annually. At 10 cents per kwh, that means a bill of $3,400. The solar panels, we are assured, will generate 75% of the hatchery’s electricity, at zero cents per kwh. Assuming so, the annual electric bill will fall by $2,550. Applying that sum to the cost, the recovery period for the solar panels (ignoring interest rates) is 70 years.

Solar panel experts say that panels have about a 25-year life, but the latest models, which no doubt are used in Ennis, may have a 40-year life. Taking that estimate, the panels leave us in the financial dark by 30 years.

An analogy … buy a new energy efficient car and pay for it over a five year time period. Normally, it would be a happy day for the consumer when you make payment number 60 and the owner continues to drive into the sunset. But in this example, the car is dead and needs to go to the junkyard after only 34 months.

You’ve got no car to drive, but you’re still paying for it for the next two years and two months.


How does that, in any way, shape or form, stimulate the economy? We’re spending money that we don’t have in the first place (generational theft) and getting nothing in return except someone, somewhere, feeling good about themselves.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. sammy22 on August 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    When nuclear power plants were first introduced in the US, they were licensed to operate for 20 years. Why? Because there was no data to support a longer life time and the NRC picked the 20 year number. Guess what: all nuclear power plants of that vintage have extended their useful life to 40 years, and the new ones are expected to last 60 years.

    • scottm on August 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      I'm with you Sammy!  I'd like to add that they are also doing less damage to the environment.

    • Dimsdale on August 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

      New nukes? Where?  πŸ˜‰


      You presume that the manufacturers have no data to support their lifespan predictions.

  2. JollyRoger on August 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Obammy doesn't care who'll be paying off these bills in 70 years- he and Michelle Antoinette will be doing a dirt nap in the garden while Sasha and Malia will be wearing diapers again!  But whatever the debt, I'll bet Barry's likeness will be on all of the bills and all of the coins- He's already on the welfare checks!

  3. sammy22 on August 22, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Dims, there are 34 nuclear power plants in the pipeline in the US, more abroad (and one in Iran is getting fueled up this weekend). Some in the US are under construction already. As to solar panels, the operational data available does not come near 40 years, do the arithmetic.

    • Dimsdale on August 22, 2010 at 5:17 am

      I can't wait (it has been 30 years after all)!  Too bad it will take another 10 years at minimum to get them built and hopefully certified.


      The 40 year figure was an estimate (above), whereas the 20 year lifespan is realistic, which makes this "investment" even more spurious.

  4. sammy22 on August 22, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Quite a few nuclear plants started up in the '80s. Most of the operating ones have been up uprated resulting in the equivalent power production of 10 new 1000 MWe plants. Several designs have already been certified by the NRC. The Utilities that are planning to build have plants sites that have already been approved. The nuclear Utilities are much smarter than credit is given to them.

    • Dimsdale on August 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Most excellent news!  Thanks!

    • scottm on August 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      Dims, judging by your last post you agree that this post by Steve McGough was a bunch of baloney that had not been researched.  There's hope for you!!

    • Dimsdale on August 23, 2010 at 9:41 am

      And where there's hope, there's fire!  πŸ˜‰


      If you're happy about new nukes too, then we have some common ground!  See!  It's easy!  πŸ˜‰

  5. Lynn on August 23, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Scott, Steve is still correct. There are a ton of better ways to stimulate manufacturing and small business without all the gamble. No MONEY should have been given, but since it was, it could have been given to small manufacturers to clean-up their sites because the EPA has made such stringent restrictions and the pollution was caused by a company 50-100 years ago. That's green too and it would allow small businesses to get loans using their property as collateral.

  6. Lynn on August 23, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Scott, also, it could be used to help CT businesses to pay the expensive electric rates caused because the GREEN people wouldn't allow more nuclear plants built! I could go on and on but the Democratic Congress just keeps passing bills without any knowledge of business. My husband's corrugated cardboard factory (corrugated has for 40 years been between 40 – 100% recycled material, as green as green can Be) and pays excellent wages, benefits and employs the unemployable. It has had to lay off half of its workers because of the high cost of doing business in CT.

    • scottm on August 23, 2010 at 7:36 am

      Lynn, I agree, they could and should be doing all they can to stimulate manufacturing and it would create other jobs by cleaning up contaminated sights, that's a good idea it would get rid of some pollution and create jobs.  I also agree that the cost of doing business particularly manufacturing is too high and something needs to be done.  The EPA applies these stringent restrictions and then places all of the burden on the business, something more should be done.  The high cost of doing business can be off-set by having enough business to keep everyone working but when things get slow the bills such as electricity still need to be paid and when the cash flow isn't there it can be extremely difficult, I understand that and feel for you and all of your employees, it's a very stressful thing.

    • Lynn on August 23, 2010 at 8:29 am

      Scott,Thanks, I have writer's remorse when I get so personal about my views on Congress. We do agree and I just wish I could make inroads. I tried to get the General Assembly in CT to understand the business climate in this state 3 years ago, and I was answered by Gary LeBeau, the chairman of the Business committee of the General Assembly who told me in an e-mail " Manufacturing is dead in CT. We are putting money in the film industry and in research at UCONN". You can see how much that has helped the business climate in CT.

      I don't even want to try anymore with the idiots in Congress.

    • Dimsdale on August 23, 2010 at 9:43 am

      Hey!  My idiots in MA are more idiotic than your idiots!


      Now I am going to go back and try to find items in L.L. Bean that don't say "imported".

  7. TomL on August 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Dims good luck with that.


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