The people who live in Detroit could really use some good news after taking the hardest landing as the Age of Oil clunkered to a close. A massive homesteading retrofit program to bring free energy from sunshine would be just perfect.
In 2007, Michigan’s Governor Granholm had instigated one of the most progressive climate targets of any state in the US, to achieve an EU Kyoto Accord level of greenhouse gas reduction of 20% below 1990 by 2020.
To get there, she set out a combination of renewable energy incentives that make solar roofs in the nearly abandoned city a slam dunk, and which could bring out-of-pocket costs down to as little as $6,000.
In 2007, she signed the ambitious target. And to get there, she invited some serious thinkers to analyze the cost-effectiveness of various policy options. After a more than a year of intensive stakeholder collaboration and cost-benefit analysis, they recommended 54 climate mitigation policy actions to lower greenhouse gases and achieve a $25 billion net gain in the gross state product.
One of the policy options recommended was “Incentives to Promote Renewable Energy Systems Implementation”.
She took their advice and budgeted $25 million for solar rebates. Now the local utility, DTE Energy, as part of the its compliance plan under the state Renewable Portfolio Standard – which requires that it buy more renewable energy each year – will pay residents to install solar power that feeds the grid. They can stop the offer only once their customers have collectively installed 5 MW of solar power. Any customers of DTE Energy are eligible.
Because the rebate pays $2,400 for every KW installed, a 5 KW system would be $12,000 off.
Like all Americans, Detroit homeowners would get the new 30% tax credit, which would reduce cost another $6,900, leaving an out-of-pocket cost of just $6,000, according to calculations by Solar Fred at Solar Power Rocks.
In addition, the utility will continue to pay a Feed-in Tariff of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. This would bring in income year after year, which Solar Fred estimates, assuming average Detroit rain, snow and a good roof orientation, could amount to a tidy $610 or so a year.
To those people who live in the Rogue States that have not passed climate and renewable energy legislation, it must seem inconceivable that an electric utility would actually pay you to put solar on your roof to compete with their rates. But once built, renewable energy will be much cheaper than fossil energy, because the fuel is free and non-polluting. And climate legislation makes that initial switch happen.
And what more fitting way to re-energize the city that suffered the most from fossil fuels – than with a 25 to 40 year supply of fossil-free energy.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.