Oct. 5, 2007 — Alternative energy makes economic sense, V.I. Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan told Rotary Club of St. John members Friday.
"We can do something about bringing the energy problem under control," he told the more than 15 Rotary members gathered at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Café for their weekly meeting.
Buchanan's visit was one of several planned to various organizations and events during October to observe Energy Awareness Month. He and others spoke about the viability of solar power in the territory's sunny climate.
"It's like pennies raining down on the roof when the sun is shining," former Sen. Craig Barshinger said.
However, Buchanan said that before jumping on the alternative energy bandwagon, homeowners must make sure their properties have what it takes to make systems economically viable.
One homeowner, he said, installed a solar system that spent most of the day in the shade, while another installed a wind generator in an area with no wind.
"He built a $10,000 lawn ornament," Buchanan said.
While Buchanan focused mainly on installing solar power systems, Rotary Club member Doug White suggested that a solar hot water system was a good place to begin for those interested in alternative energy.
He said that 30 to 40 percent of an electrical bill goes to keeping the hot water heater on around the clock.
White said that a solar hot water system keeps the water hot up to five days even when the sun doesn't shine.
Buchanan said that energy inefficiency is a big drain of the electrical bill. He said that just leaving a computer on 24 hours a day will cost $200 a year in electricity.
Although installing a solar power system isn't cheap and costs are higher than on the mainland, financial help has been available. However, Buchanan said that the Energy Office is moving from the Planning and Natural Resources Department's umbrella to the Governor's Office, so the rebate program is on hold for the time being.
He said that in addition to the rebate received from the Energy Office when that program comes back on line, home owners who buy solar systems get a tax break on their income taxes.
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