I recently had a good look at the shingles on my house, and unfortunately, it looks like they need replacing. But then I got to thinking, perhaps, since I have to do work on the roof anyway, this might be a good time to investigate solar energy.
What’s really neat is there is a great source of solar panel and off-grid information right in my backyard – SolarPanel.ca is located in Wabamun, AB, very close to where I live. I doubt I want to go completely off-grid, but it would be really nice to tie in some solar panels to reduce my electric bills – we all know those electricity costs have been increasing, and probably will continue to do so. Considering that the price of solar panels has really dropped, and they are much more readily available, I’m thinking now is the time to jump.
But during my Internet research, I came across a couple of disturbing articles. First, there’s threats by various power utilities that they may begin charging service fees to users who have implemented solar panels:
Like most service fees charged by power utilities, this really sounds out to lunch. Like it says in the AP article, this really sounds like power companies are out to punish those who use less electricity from the grid.
And on another disturbing front, I came across this CBC article relating the concerns of Ontario firefighters – they claim rooftop solar panels make fires more dangerous to fight:
This article also has a bit of head-scratch to it – firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, necessitating dealing with all sorts of chemicals, electrical, and gas situations. Firefighters mitigate these dangers through situation assessment and fighting the fire according to the what dangers are presented. I don’t see how a solar panel on a roof is any different from a cabin with a large propane tank.
My perspective on this is perhaps a bit paranoid, but I’m really starting to suspect that industry propaganda is behind some of this “seeding of doubt” in the minds of consumers. I think what’s going to be needed is a strong educational campaign by the solar industry, and hopefully, some forward-thinking legislation that protects consumers who invest in solar technology. It would be nice if government actually helped encourage the growth of the solar industry, but don’t hold your breath.