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Central Library Unveils Solar Panels

by Katie Pyzyk October 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm 3,592 63 Comments

The Central Library (1015 N. Quincy St.) held a ribbon cutting event Monday afternoon to unveil its newly installed solar panels.

The 250 panels on the roof of the building are expected to save the library $14,000 per year.

The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, through a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Henry Kelly of the U.S. Department of Energy, who lives in Arlington, said clean energy plans help to create jobs.

Kelly said, “Investing in clean energy is an integral part of the economic recovery process.”

Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Mary Hynes said the timing of the unveiling is fitting, considering October is National Energy Awareness month. She also wants more green initiatives to spread throughout Arlington.

Hynes said, “I hope this is the first of many opportunities to add solar to our buildings.”

The Central Library plans to continue its push for a greener community by installing a Capital Bikeshare station in front of the Quincy St. entrance. The goal is to have that in place by next spring.

  • Chris M.

    I wonder who’s estimates are going to turn out to be correct, Arlington’s or the WSJ’s. Renewable energy is pretty much crony capitalism at its best.


    • drax

      The WSJ should know all about crony capitalism.

    • Josh S

      Yikes. You really want to site that editorial? It’s full of crap. He complains about a federal attorney enforcing the law? He complains about the Dept of Energy having the audacity to note the environmental and human health drawbacks of fracking? That’s their RESPONSIBILITY. Believe me, this same guy will turn around and flame the feds for failing to enforce laws when they line up with his sensibilities (and likely wallet).

      His obvious bias taints all of the figures that he uses (no citations for any of them, of course). He has a fairly clear agenda. The county may very well be wrong in the end about their projections, but there is far less reason to believe they would intentionally exaggerate the information than he would.

      • Chris M.

        Hi Josh,

        My point in siting both is that, as always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Arlington’s numbers are just as silly. You have “far less reason to believe they would intentionally exaggerate,” WHY??? They are constantly wasting money here, and they are not going to be around in 25 years to have to account for it. (Not that anyone would hold them to account anyway)

        For example, maintenance and upkeep alone will end up making this investment a monetary loss. The only way you could justify this expense is on reduction of CO2 emission, which is ridiculous on so many levels. I hate lining the pockets of executives with tax dollars, solar or oil, and I hate taking money from middle class folks in America, to subsidies the lifestyle choices of the spoiled rich people here.

        • Josh S

          How we get our energy is hardly a “lifestyle choice.”

          I love the appeal to the “middle class folks in America.” Is a golden light shining on them as they drive their Chevys to church?

          Why do I have less reason to believe the county would exaggerate versus a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal? Simple. Money. What monetary gain do local government bureaucrats get over projecting one set of numbers versus another? None that I can see. However, it’s fairly easy to imagine that Mister Editorial writer has a financial stake in natural gas extraction.

          Can you provide evidence that the county is “constantly wasting money here” that doesn’t involve your own opinion about what is waste and what is not?

          And why would you say the county won’t be around in 25 years? Do you have insider knowledge of a coup?

          How do you know “maintenance and upkeep” will end up making this investment a loss? Are you an expert on the mainteance and upkeep of solar panels?

          Whose pockets were “lined” by the decision to install these solar panels? As a follow-up question, who would have been further enriched if the county had simply continued to pay for their energy the same way that they had been?

          • Chris M.

            1) Of course it is a lifestyle choice. In my experience, people chose solar energy because it makes them feel warm, fuzzy, and superior. Also, they love to play with other peoples money. If you think you’re impacting global warming, good for you.

            2) Picking on normal people does not help the argument that this area is full of spoiled brats.

            3)Monetary gain is not the only reason to make false estimates. There is political gain. If you don’t think governments exaggerate their figures, you must work for them: http://reason.com/blog/2011/09/14/democrats-knew-obamacares-clas

            4) Of course it is my opinion that this county waists money. What is wrong with that?

            5) The POLITICIANS won’t be here, DUH.

            6) The maintenance argument is a common sense one, and I sure don’t see it in any of their ROI calculations. You know…like a private company would have to include.

            7) Executives of the solar companies make out like bandits, again DUH. Also, resources are finite, and there are a thousand other things they could have done with the money.

        • esmith69

          How is the reduction of CO2 emission “ridiculous on so many levels”?

          Sorry, I guess I forgot that Fox News probably told you that global climate change is fake.

          • Chris M.

            Keep thinking that people that don’t agree with you are stupid. I’m sure it helps your bloated sense of superiority.

            FYI..I hate Fox News.

          • Captain Climate

            People who ignore overwhelming evidence are not merely ignorant. What should they be called? Global warming is real. Even the WSJ is now forced to agree:


          • John Fontain

            “Even the WSJ is now forced to agree”

            An OpEd piece written by a scientist hardly equates to the WSJ agreeing.

            “People who ignore overwhelming evidence are not merely ignorant”

            If by ‘overwhelming evidence’ you mean measuring temperatures for a very brief period of time then I guess you are right.

          • Chris M.

            No one said global warming is not real Cap’n, just that subsidizing solar panels does squat. But who cares about the truth when it makes you feel good.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Except that $14,000 doesn’t include much higher maintenance costs and amortized capital costs.

    • Josh S

      How do you know?

  • JimPB

    Kudos to ArlCo public library for top of the roof leadership and innovation and a forthcoming example (bike rack).

    The deployment of solar energy producers is spreading from coast to coast and overseas. E.g., in NYC: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/education/24science.html?hpw

    Oil producers got government help starting out, and, in spite of their enormous contemporary profits, contend that they still need lavish doles from the taxpayers. Ah, the corporate welfare queens (not fiction, like the alleged welfare queen) and their vastly overpaid executives who accumulate (not earn, accumulate) wealth with mutual back-scratching, doles to and bail-outs of their companies that translate into bonuses for the executives, and low to zero tax rates, tax exclusions, tax deductions and tax credits.

    • Burger

      I love the argument that oil companies got help. I mean most of the time it was pure government land that wasn’t being use that the oil men paid low rents on for items that people needed.

      Unlike this boondoggle.

      • Josh S

        Government land that wasn’t being used? Typical sort of assumption that land is only valuable when it is being exploited.

        But let’s leave that aside. You’re admitting that they paid low rents on it. Then proceeded to earn massive profits from the resources they extract. If it’s government land to begin with, the resources are publicly owned. Rents probably should have been much higher.

        In any case, you can’t deny that tax breaks and the like have been used to support domestic oil companies. Why is that OK but providing support to solar panel companies is a “boondoggle.” I’m not sure that’s consistent. If it’s not, it’s illogical.

        • Burger

          I do deny tax breaks. They are given most of the same tax breaks that every other company gets.

          Further, oil companies do not get tax breaks on the consumer side i.e. their product succeeds or fails based on the attractiveness of their product to the consumer. Solar companies and the like get tax breaks on both ends (in construction, loans, etc) but also get tax breaks on the consumer side. Thus, creating false demand from people that would more than likely buy solar panels as well. There was no tax breaks for people buying cars 100 years ago.

          I’m curious to what time frame you are talking about – though you and the Times leave it clearly ambiguous to tell.

          Further, rent is only worth what an oil company is willing to pay for it. Oil companies have options to extract oil all over the world and most have lower extraction costs than the US. Why do it in the US, and employ US citizens, when you can do it elsewhere for cheaper.

          It is a boondoggle because the government is picking winners in the marketplace and the government is terrible at doing this. Let solar, wind, etc succeed on its own merits. Even with massive subsidies and forced demand, most “green” energy comes out costing 3 and 4 times more.

          • Josh S

            “I do deny tax breaks. They are given most of the same tax breaks that every other company gets.”

            How can one even respond?

            The discussion about rents and royalties for domestic oil production would obviously have to center on the past, I think. At least when we’re talking about land-based extraction.

            You perhaps are implying that oil companies are making a conscious choice to extract oil overseas because it’s cheaper to do so. As opposed to the fact that there’s not much oil left domestically.

  • Burger

    BTW, the county listed the savings in May as $14,000/yr. But, in October that was revised to 9,000/yr.



    I’d bet it is even lower ROI in the long run.

    And if you are doing any math (with a reported cost of 300K) that works out to 33 years to return the investment of sticking solar panels on top of the roof.

    • Zoning Victim

      Yeah, you’re probably not too far off. I used a solar calculator for my house, which has a lot more roof than most homes in this area, and my breakeven point was well over 20 years and that was with the tax break the US is/was offering. I’m certainly behind researching alternative energy, but I don’t believe in having the government subsidize businesses. Solar energy isn’t feasible without the subsidy at this point.

      • Josh S

        The problem with not believing in having the government subsidize businesses is that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere on the face of the Earth where that doesn’t happen.

        Just like you’d be hard pressed to find some aspect of your modern existence that isn’t made possible as a result of government subsidies, payments, investments, etc. How about the very Internet we are using now?

        So while the economics of solar energy is still questionable in various circumstances, does it have future potential social benefits? Absolutely. Is it likely that private industry would adequately fund the R&D and economies of scale needed to improve the economics of solar? No.

        • Burger

          You live in a very different world than reality.

          You can argue all you want about the 70,000 foot view of subsidies but overall, these companies succeed and fail on their own. But your argument is essentially one that crony capitalism works and should be promoted which to most is an indication of one that believes that better connections trump better products. Historically, and an obvious generalization, but in the US, the opposite is true.

          There is a reason Prodigy was replaced by AOL which was replaced by Microsoft which is being replaced by Google.

          Are their subsidies there?

          You give government way too much credit.

          And, you miss the point. I don’t think people are arguing that government sets the cards for everyone but now it is stacking cards in favor of one v. other instead of letting the private enterprise letting it happen.

          • Josh S

            Forget the FSM, I’m worshipping Burger as my deity from now on – after all, he has the ability to determine reality.

        • Zoning Victim

          You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere on earth where people don’t steal from each other. That doesn’t mean it’s not morally reprehensible. It is completely inappropriate for the government to be picking the winners and losers among private businesses.

          Your statements about government “payments,” whatever that means and “investments,” which doesn’t even make sense because the government isn’t a business that makes investments, have nothing to do with the topic of the government using tax dollars to tip the scale in the favor of whatever business they like the most, for whatever reason. If you are attempting to refer to government grants for scientific discovery, I don’t think you’ll find a lot of pushback from people on that type of spending, but that doesn’t mean anything with regards to polluting the business market with tax dollars, tax breaks, low-interest loans, personal deductions and the like. You complain about these types of things when it’s for companies you hate, don’t you? You must, you’ve been doing it all over this board today.

          As for the internet that you and all liberals always want to tout as why our government should be allowed to meddle in anything they want (only, of course, as long as it benefits something it should benefit in your opinion), the “very Internet we are using now” was not created by the US government. Certain aspects of the technology used to direct information around the internet were originally created by the different governments’ (not just the US) and universities’ research projects. Yet, what the internet is and it’s pervasiveness in our lives has nothing to do with the government and everything to do with private enterprise. It was private enterprise who decided to take the risk of installing T1 and T3 lines and allowing people to dial into their servers to use the internet. It was private enterprises, universities and individuals that created HTML, JavaScript, the browser, ASP, JSP, UNIX, Windows Server, Apache, Internet Information Server, Flash, PDF, streaming media, internet stores, Napster, EBay, Amazon, chat, Twitter, Facebook, the list goes on and on. Without all of these things, all you have is a basic, and very boring, networking infrastructure for sharing files. Giving the US government the credit for creating the internet as we know it because it helped to develop the technology of packet switching (originally the idea of a Brit) is like giving the US government the credit for creating the modern automobile because it built some of the roads and highways. It is, in fact, quite to the contrary; if you want to see what capitalism can do when the government gets the hell out of the way, you need look no farther than the internet. The internet is what it is because of the creativity of the individual, the individual quest for knowledge, the individual propensity to improve upon what we already have and the driving force of commerce.

          • Carol_R

            Actually Mosaic was paid for by the federal government. That’s why it got it free for 5 years. The people who designed it with the government’s money, then formed Netscape, made a few modifications and then sold it back to them and the public.

          • Zoning Victim

            True, the NSF did fund the research project that developed it at the NCSA, which is a state-federal partnership operating out of the University of Illinois. The people who worked on the project left the NCSA and formed Mosaic Communications Corporation, which later became Netscape. They used some of the Mosaic code, with permission from NCSA, but I’m not sure I’d characterize the differences between Mosaic and Netscape as “a few modifications.”

            Interestingly enough, and this only goes to show why the government shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of private businesses, after letting Netscape use some of their code for basically nothing, they made MS pay them $8 million to do the same thing with IE. Then later, when IE crushed Netscape, a government pet since they basically funded its beginning, the United States sued Microsoft for allegedly abusing their monopoly power.

          • Josh S

            I guess it’s one of the problems of debating via the Internet, but most of the things you are arguing against aren’t really what I was asserting.

            Why do you need to go to the length of saying that government subsidies, etc are morally reprehensible? That’s sort of an extreme point of view, isn’t it? Besides, the question should be – do they make sense from a societal point of view? Will they improve the greater good? At this point in economic history, I don’t think continued subsidies to the oil and gas industry make sense. One, the industry clearly doesn’t need them. Two, continued consumption of their products, while absolutely necessary for the smooth functioning of our society, come with enormous negative externalities that aren’t currently priced into their product. So instead of giving financial support to the industry, government should be figuring out ways to increase taxation so as to pay for the mitigation of the problems their products create – increased health costs, raising sea levels, etc.

            I don’t think it is at all difficult for intelligent and reasonable people to make distinctions between the societal benefits of certain activities over others. In fact, this is sort of a definitional purpose of government in any form or shape. If you don’t think that government can/should do it, you’re also sort of arguing against the existence of government in the first place. Furthermore, arguing that the “free market” can better handle these decisions is to ignore A) there is no free market and B) decades of evidence to the contrary. The “free market” is great for people with capital to preserve and grow their capital. It’s kinda terrible for looking out for the greater good of society as a whole. I can’t deny that the operations of individuals and corporations looking to make a buck do also often result in utility for society – your long list of how the internet has developed from government and university research project to what we have now surely shows that. But again, the motivation of those individuals and corporations is not to make society better – it’s to make a buck. The set of activities that results in making a buck may occasionally overlap with making society better, but they are not the same thing and in fact the set of actions that results in making a buck most definitely also occasionally overlaps with the set that results in society suffering. It is this fundamental reality that is where some sort of third party oversight ombudsman must exist. I’ll leave it there for now since this is already too long.

            By the way, “you and all liberals” is argumentative gibberish. It doesn’t mean anything and has no bearing on the quality of your argument, or mine.

          • Josh S

            At the beginning, I said continued subsidies to the oil industry make sense. I meant to say “don’t make sense.”

          • ” the motivation of those individuals and corporations is not to make society better – it’s to make a buck”

            Making a buck is one of the reasons I studied hard, got several degrees, and obtained a good job that does good things for society. Guess what? I get paid for it. I get paid more than I need to live daily. I save money, donate to charity, which does make society better. The desire to “make a buck” has certainly been a driving force for me, and for many. It has produced a productive worker making society better.

            If there was no desire to prosper, if things were given to me, I’d gladly have taken them and may not have produced or strived to educate and develop into a productive member of society. Why should I? Society gives me what I need without even trying.

            The drive to “make a buck” to support your family, yourself, or even your charitable desires hardly “occasionally overlaps” with making socity better. It IS this desire that drives people to get up every day and go to work to partake in how society works.

          • Zoning Victim

            Well said.

          • Zoning Victim

            No Josh, I don’t think it’s extreme. I find all mandatory redistribution of wealth to be morally reprehensible; I guess that’s the difference between me and “you and all liberals” (haha). I’d bet that all of Solara’s competition, both within the solar industry and in the energy industry as a whole find it morally reprehensible that the government can tax them and then take that money and use it to provide subsidies to their competition. You see, the problem with subsidies for businesses is that it’s the government that gets to pick the winners and losers instead of natural selection, and those decisions are always made based on either ideology or who are buddies with whom. It is morally improper to take someone’s hard earned money and give it to someone else to begin with, but it’s even worse when it’s given to someone who will then use it to take market share from your business. I’m not buying this greater good malarkey / societal benefit, either. That argument has been used over and over to justify all kinds of atrocities. Redistribution of wealth is theft; it’s that simple.

            The invention of solar technology dates back to 1839. If we haven’t figured out how to make it affordable after 172 years of development, it’s just not going to work out given today’s manufacturing technology constraints. Propping up the industry with government cash in the hopes that something will be discovered that will fix the issue is ridiculous. If we have a technology gap, which we do with solar, and we want to put money into research at the university in hopes of developing new technology, then sure; billions of dollars just given out to line the pockets of some rich business owners under the guise of it generating some societal benefit on down the line, no way.

            The argument that people who don’t want runaway government spending on corporate and personal welfare whether or not someone else thinks it’s for some societal benefit are for no government at all is a false one, and I think you and all intelligent people know that.

            The people who work for the government, isn’t their motive profit? The politicians, who get to steer this money to the companies as they see fit, isn’t their motive profit and power? The scientist, who discovers a new drug that helps millions of people, wasn’t his company profit motivated; isn’t that why they paid for the research? And did that scientist not get his degree so he could become a scientist, help lots of people and make good money? I’m having a hard time figuring out who does much of anything without the motive of profiting in some way.

        • Suburban Not Urban

          You are sadly mis-informed. I worked for a company that early on in it’s first work with the Fed govt tangled with them over the contract. From scratch, over the subsequent 30years they built a 10 million $ a year business without ever accepting another govt contract.

          • Zoning Victim

            I’m not sure what you’re referring to; who is sadly misinformed about what? What contract are you talking about?

    • Josh S

      I’d recommend you read the press release. It’s still projected at $14,000, but the money comes from two different places.

      • #

        Josh S. Do you have a ponytail?

        • Josh S

          Define “have.”

  • Wa$ted

    I hear Arlington is planning a hydroelectric plant on Four Mile Run to power three street lights. They will publish the “savings” at $8k/year.

  • Tgeoa

    Might as well capture the hot air from Zimmerman and power the whole state

  • jonblaze

    What will happen once the funeral home (and parking lot) on Fairfax Drive is replaced with a high-rise and the solar panels lose access to direct sunlight?

    • John Fontain

      To protect its solar interests, maybe the County Board will approve a change to the county’s zoning ordinance that will require new buildings within one block of the south side of a public library to seek a Special Exception Use Permit if they wish to build taller than the adjacent public library. This way they could effective take away the property owner’s by-right development ability similar to what they did to block Wal-Mart.

      • John Fontain


      • Andrew

        Not saying you are advocating for this, but that would be insane. Everyone talks about increasing density around metro stations but we would limit the height of residential buildings so that a library could use solar panels?

        • John Fontain

          Oh, I’m definitely not advocating this. It was written in complete sarcasm to show how unfair their recent big box restriction was.

          But rest assured, if the Board does approve another change to the county’s zoning ordinace they won’t ask you or I what we think, they’ll just do it.

        • Lou

          This is what the County could require next to the library in the future

      • Josh S

        When did the county block Walmart?

    • Burger

      There is generally no property right to sunlight. Now, as John states, the county can change the rules ex post facto, but it will most definitely cost them.

  • I would have liked, if possible with the grant money, to see other energy efficient tasks being performed. Perhaps use the money to improve the insulation, install higher efficiency lighting, lighting controls, etc. These would go further for the buck than the solar panels would.

    • JimPB

      Overgrown Bush — ArlCo library, with its forward-looking leadership, is years ahead of your request:

      Arlington County Central Library
      Notice: During the summer of 2011, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services will install 250 solar panels on the roof of the Central Library. View our fact sheet to learn more about the Central Library Solar Panel Installation.

      Arlington County Central Library, originally built in 1961 and expanded in 1994, is a multi-storied 131,000 square foot building (including garage) open for over 80 hours per week. Central Library is the primary resource for the County library system, and one of the largest public library collections in Metro DC. Its energy use runs the typical heating, cooling, ventilation (HVAC), lighting, and water heating equipment associated with any commercial building, as well as a robust public access computer center and office equipment for staff use.
      Our Improvements
      In 2000, Central Library used 2,769,440 kWh of electricity. This energy use carried a heavy environmental burden, equating to over 1,500 metric tons of CO2e. The County’s energy management program began in earnest in 2001, making a series of adjustments to the building automation system and some lighting upgrades. As a result, electricity use fell to 2,350,540 kWh in 2001, and eventually to 1,754,320 in 2009.
      Once the Fresh AIRE program was launched in 2007, the energy management team returned to Central Library and invested in additional lighting retrofits. We retrofitted all fluorescent fixtures from T12 lamps with magnetic ballasts to T8 lamps with electronic ballasts, replaced high-wattage indirect pendant fixtures with T8 fluorescent pendant fixtures, and replaced all incandescent lamps with either compact fluorescent or LED lights. We also upgraded auditorium lighting to dimmable LED downlights. The building’s HVAC controls continue to be finetuned, and we are investigating the replacement of several electric tank water heaters with instant-hot fixtures at various sinks. In 2011, solar photovoltaic panels will be added to Central Library’s roof to help shave the ‘peak demand’ at this facility and save even more money. We are proud that in 2010, electricity consumption was down to 1,708,560 kWh, a 38% decline from ten years ago! The improvements made since 2007 cost $118,269 and are saving over $57,000 per year in electricity costs, a payback of just over two years.
      Value to the County
      Overall, the reduction in electricity from 2000 to 2010—1,060,880 kWh per year— is saving the County over $90,000 in avoided electricity costs and preventing nearly 580 metric tons of CO2e from being released due to electricity production. This would be the same as taking 400 cars off the road or planting nearly 15,000 trees.
      How Do We Rate?
      When we benchmark this building against a nationwide sample of libraries, we found that in 2010 Central Library used slightly less energy than its peers. We look forward to seeing out how this building performs in 2011!
      Follow Our Lead
      Many businesses and commercial properties in Arlington still have older lighting like the T12 lamps we retrofitted. Lighting retrofits and upgrades can pay for themselves quickly, and state and federal incentives are also emerging to help pay for such energy improvements. Check the AIRE website for more information.
      Learn about the energy consumption of our entire portfolio by visiting our Building Energy Report Cards on the AIRE website, http://www.arlingtonva.us/aire
      View the complete Central Library Case Study.
      About Arlington
      Contact Us
      Things To Do
      Today In Arlington
      Emergency Preparedness
      Arlington En Español
      Online Services

      • Josh S

        That ball iiiiisss…….. OUTTAHERE!!!!

      • Burger

        What percentage of change in electric usage can be attributed to reduced hours imposed over the last 2-3 years? Reduced hours means less need for lights, HVAC, etc.

        And, what is the cost associated with that reduction (less hours). It makes no sense to spend 1 million dollars to save 90K.

        Again, notice, how the county never states how much all this cost.

        • The T12 to T8 lights may be cost effective, but going to LED lighting probably is far from it (especially in 2007). The problem with trying to be a “leader” is that you are going to pay for it. As with most products, the cost of Version 1.0 is steep and usually far from the best. Arlington wants to lead, but I’m not always comfortable with the cost associated with that. They could be one of the first followers and achieve the same goals at significantly less cost by using Version 2.0 or 3.0 instead.

      • Great info, Jim. Thanks.

  • JimPB

    Burger — My paste above from the ArlCo Public Library about their energy efficiency improvements included $ costs and $ savings. If you want more information, try the Ask the Libarian feature for assistance in getting the answers.

    Your point about reduction in library hours reducing energy use is a good one. It can be addressed in part by obtaining per- and post- use/hr. figures (amount used or cost incurred/wk or yr. divided by total hours library open for same time unit). Keep in mind that this will underestimate the savings in that there is energy being used when the library is closed.

    I look forward to your analysis with data and results.

  • mickey644

    I have lived in the county off and on for over 60 years and have seen a lot of things come and go. I am a conservative republican, surrounded with liberal democrats which makes it much more interesting. I recently spent over a year living in the EU and got to see the direction that the Democrats are taking us, up close and personal. I spent the $9 plus for gasoline, took a 3 day trip through France on their “super highway toll road” for over $350 in tolls, paid $4.50 for a 4 oz bottle of water, a 20% VAT tax over the almost 10% sales tax, etc. It all leads to mediocrity and no one really gets ahead, so why work hard? I saw a neighbor have a knee operation and he laid out of work with full pay for almost 6 months! No complications, it’s just the “system”….and now they find that they can’t afford it!! They can’t afford to retire at age 55, live on the riviera and have the taxpayers pay for it. There isn’t enough money. So, Arlington, get those solar panels, dam four mile run for electric power, worry about whether anyone under age 13 should be allowed to walk their dog in the dog park….oh yeah, don’t fill those pot holes or cut that grass for safety….but do buy those bikes for the capital bike program!…….go figure, you just can’t make this stuff up!! When the laughter dies down and the recession hits you, it will be too late.

    • Captain Climate

      I have seen the direction the Republicans are taking us and it is a cross between Greece and Libya. No willingness to raise takes (even to Reagan or Eisenhower levels), no real willingness to cut spending on the things that matter (Defense and Entitlements), no willingness to reregulate the banks to prevent the kinds of crises we’ve been subject to since deregulation, declining middle class wages amidst soaring incomes for the top 5%. No thanks. Thanks to the Democrats (and what used to be a sane GOP in the 1970s), we have cleaner air and water in this country. You have social security (bet you won’t give that back, but I may have to, if I ever get to retire).

      I’m probably going to put solar panels on my own house. It will pay for itself over the time I expect to live there, and if you’ve ever ridden Metro lately, you might think twice about deriding bike-share. Next time I can’t physically fit into the station due to some delay and crowding, you bet your bottom dollar I’m grabbing one of those bikes.

      So let me put it to you this way. I’m 40, I got little kids, and I’m not laughing at all about the world we’re leaving them. Whatever Arlington can do to be more energy efficient, save money, and improve our environment and quality of life, I will support.

      • Chris M.
        • Captain Climate

          That’s funny! That made me laugh. Of course my point was that it’s easy for a senior citizen to laugh about things that won’t impact him. Some of us younger folks (and our kids) have a different view.

          • I think that senior citizen is blaming some of the younger folks.

  • We apologize for any confusion and would like to take this opportunity to clarify the energy cost savings associated with the solar panels. Total annual energy cost savings are projected to be $9,400 during the first year of operation (this includes estimated electricity savings plus demand peak charge reductions). Savings are estimated to increase as electricity rates rise.

    The project ALSO provides a potential future revenue stream from the sale of solar renewable energy credits of up to 22 cents per kilowatt, for a total of about $14,000 per year (in additional to the saving of $9,400.) http://news.arlingtonva.us/pr/ava/arlington-corrects-wall-street-215166.aspx

    • Suburban Not Urban

      You sight electricity savings and reduced peak back charges from the power company.
      But what’s the projected difference in maintenance cost/Watt?
      What about the capital cost of the system and the projected life time of the system(Furnace systems have a pretty long projected life)? Do you include depreciated capital?
      This is pretty simple:
      If I pay 100K for a system, that costs 1000/year to operate and has a system lifetime of 20 years
      and compare it to
      A system that costs 50K that costs 2000/year to operate but lasts 40 years.
      (Not including the time value of money) you would spend 240000 on the first system and 130000 on the second system.
      PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give us a complete picture.

      The renewable energy credit, while real, is a gov’t subsidy where you are taking taxpayer money that we pay(along with a lot of others) and then taking credit for it.

      • JohnB

        This was funded with Federal grant money. The Federal government has an interest in spurring this technology and consideres the impact from a macro perspective. While on a micro level the economics might not make sense for Arlington County to pay for this, they were smart to go after the grant funding. From a macro level, policy makers have to take into account the positive externalities of the economic demand created in the short term, and the capital flow to the private sector that increases its capacity to deliver this product to market at a lower cost in the future bringing the industry closer to a price point where it would make sense from a micro perspective. While it might not have been the most efficiednt allocation of capital, it certainly was more productive than some of the 1930s programs that paid people to dig ditches and fill them back in again, and definately will result in more positive externalities than the private sector’s misallocation of capital to the housing market between 2004 and 2007.

  • Chris M.


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