By Letter to the Editor on February 16, 2019.
Two weeks ago (Jan. 28 at 12:35 a.m.) I watched a segment of “Full Measure” with Sharyl Attkisson on ABC Seattle titled “Solar Power: Clean and Cheap or Costly and Dirty.” I believe the information provided in this 10-minute segment should have been shown on a prime-time newscast for everyone to view.
Solar power isn’t anything new, as the story indicated the first solar panels were used in 1955 to power a telephone line transmission.
Attkisson interviewed Vedas Monterrey, a professional solar power architect living in southern California. Although a strong supporter/designer of solar, he believes California politicians don’t understand the consequences of making all homes mandatory solar power-efficient. He/the show pointed out several negative effects of prematurely embracing the solar panel industry as a safe and cheap alternative.
Vedas indicated not all solar panel equipment is produced equal in longevity, with some manufactured panels only lasting three years before requiring replacement. The segment also stated that to manufacture the solar panels in California between 2007 and 2011, the process produced 46.5 million pounds of sludge and contaminated water.
The atomic agency says solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than a nuclear power plant. Solar panels have to be properly disposed of along with other electronics or will contaminate soil/groundwater.
Attkisson also spoke with Thomas Alhas, who indicated that although a $10,000 initial cost increase to a new home, the homeowner could save $19,000 over 30 years on power savings, provided no repairs/replacement is required. Thomas also indicated that solar panel power is a reliable/achievable energy source, but only mentioned the southern parts of southern U.S. states.
I was a little surprised there was no discussion/cost estimates on longevity/life cycle of the batteries as well as additional costs associated with roof replacements which could eliminate all cost savings for power. Having a roofing background for the past 50 years, the added costs could range up to $10,000 per homeowner to hundreds of thousands for a commercial property owner to replace your roof. Probably why the show indicated a new trend to multiple on-ground rows of solar panels for small community areas to share.
For me to summarize, buyer beware if contemplating a switch to solar power. Do your own research thoroughly; don’t just look at provincial government rebates as an actual savings, as it could actually turn into a long-term ongoing major expense.