I placed a deposit on an array of solar panels sponsored by company in Colorado who is putting up a project in Whiting Vermont. I am a firm believer in renewable energy and am looking to do everything that I can to reduce my footprint. I took money out of my retirement fund to support this project and in return I would get offsets on my electric bill. I was told I would get a 7% annual return on my investment and that the panels would last 30-50 years and the payback would be a little over 10 years. Sounded pretty good. Unfortunately, it was not good enough.
While on a bus to the People's Climate March, I ran into a couple of folks that educated me on the REC's- Solar Renewable Energy Credits. Seems that they are credits that are bundled with solar energy created by solar panels. The recs can be bought and sold in the energy markets. Companies sell these credits to companies who most often need them to comply with pollution standards without actually making the necessary changes to reduce their carbon footprint. I have read that the REC's are beneficial as people who do not have the resource of renewable energy available to them can purchase these offsets so that they can sleep at night. The problem is that companies who may purchase these REC's should be putting some of their resources into helping solve the problem of climate change.
So, I got my deposit back, and they tried to convince me that the REC's were a good thing. I'm not thinking they are. With the price of solar coming down in price by double digits for the past two years, I think the time to lock in is not today as hard as it is for me to say that. I work for a non-profit and need to examine all of my purchases carefully. I will be putting some of my assets into renewable energy, but not right now.