Michael Grunwald @MikeGrunwald Senior writer, @POLITICOMag. Editor-at-large, The Agenda. Author of The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. Jul. 20, 2019 2 min read

Hey, I’ve now had my #solar panels for 2 years. So here’s a thread about why #solar panels are awesome. 1

The first thing to know about going #solar is that once you do it you never have to think about it. I sell power to the grid during the day and buy power from the grid at night, but that's all automatic. When I turn on the lights the lights turn on, day or night. 2

The next thing to know about #solar is the excellent economics. I estimated in this essay about greening my life  https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/05/my-life-in-the-elusive-green-economy-217213  that my panels would pay for themselves in eight years. It's now looking like the payback will be...yup, eight years. 3

It's like I've got a no-risk 12 percent bond on my roof. Do you know any other investments other than #solar that guarantee a 12 percent annual return? 4

An important caveat is that I live in Florida, where (thanks to utilities' stranglehold on the legislature) I had to buy my panels up front. In other states you can go #solar for no money down and guarantee yourself a lower electric bill for decades. 5

Anyway, my annual electric bill is down more than 90%, even though I now have an all-electric @Chevrolet Bolt that I charge at home. Last month my bill was $9.90, the minimum for anyone connected to the grid. Sorry, @insideFPL! 6

I harp on this a lot but it's not a coincidence that @InsideFPL is building dozens of #solar plants. Solar is cheap! @InsideFPL just doesn't want homeowners to go solar; it wants us to keep writing big checks every month to @InsideFPL. 7

Remember, @InsideFPL is an investor-owned utility that needs growth. But power use has been flat, because homes/TVs/bulbs/etc are getting so efficient. Say an average customer's use is growing 0-1%, when Wall Street wants to see 3-4%. What happens when I add a -90% to the mix? 8

This is what happens: Either @InsideFPL needs to wring an additional 1% growth out of 90 other customers - actually an additional 2% growth, because my next-door neighbor went #solar too - or it needs a new business model that doesn't rely on 3-4% (now 5-6%!) load growth. 9

That is how change happens. My neighbor and I (and a few thousand other #solar homeowners) are screwing up FPL's business model. We're only chipping away at the margins, but the margins are where companies thrive or don't. 10

Anyway, change is really important, because have I mentioned that fossil fuels are frying the planet? In 2 years my solar panels have avoided the equivalent of 55,179 kg (about 60 tons) of CO2 emissions. It's the equivalent of planting more than 3000 trees. 11

So you should consider solar, too. The cost has plunged 85% in a decade. It's fun to pay $10 a month for power. (Even if you brew your car's fuel on your roof!) And it's good to do something good for the climate even though you can't solve the crisis yourself. END

You can follow @MikeGrunwald.


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