It does my heart good to see this subject...which all too often becomes most unpleasant...remain civil.
I am the world's worst at researching anything on line...a certifiable computer dunce. My anecdotal story below probably needs someone who can either verify or disprove what it says. A little help please.
I don't know if this is true or the usual urban myth...but...the story goes that in order to begin saving money and helping the environment the federal government installed solar panels at a federal fish hatchery in Ennis, Montana at a cost of some $70,000,000 (million). Annual power cost savings would eventually pay for the panels in 70 years. One problem...the life expectancy of the panels is 40 years. THAT is why I'm hesitant to have the government oversee the solutions to help make this a cleaner better planet. If not true...there is still something that rings true about what they handle our tax money!!
Well, your figures are off by about 69 some million.
Here's the original article from PERC.
You should know that the deep thinkers at PERC are against the Montana stream access law, written into our state constitution, and think public waters should be privatized with the dubious argument being that if our waters were privatized it would be better for the environment and the fish.
I have no interest in remaining civil where PERC is concerned. I've actually met a couple of their people.
The point isn't that the absolute cheapest way to power everything should be used. The point is to find cleaner energy sources and yes, they might cost a bit more.
There are all kinds of people who purchase solar power for their homes knowing the return on investment is decades away. They don't do it in the hopes of gaming the system. They do it to help minimize their carbon footprint and because they like the idea of being energy self sufficient as much as they can be.
Solar systems for average houses are somewhere around $20,000 after tax credits, sometimes they are a little bit more, sometimes less, it depends on a variety of factors. The main takeaway from this is that messing around with solar for your house costs less than a new vehicle.
You will also get that money back over time and some systems being installed today will pay for themselves over time and actually save you money.
My neighbor across the street is doing and has been doing exactly that for a few years now. I'm thinking about doing it in the future. I think it would be fun and a good way to spend my money.