More “green” stimulus money down a rat hole – Navy rat hole this time!


Russ Steele

The Sac Bee has the story about the Navy installing solar panels at bases in California using ARRA funds.

Current law states that “an energy project is a justified investment only if it is cost-effective,” according to the audit first cited by Time magazine. But Navy officials concluded the stimulus bill projects were exempt from this requirement.

Projects were selected in part for their “contribution to the achievement of energy goals rather than cost-effectiveness,” Navy officials stated.

According to auditors, energy cost savings from the Lemoore solar panel system will recoup only an estimated 26 percent of the installation cost. At Naval Base San Diego, the solar panels will recoup only 16 percent of the cost, they said.

Over the course of 20 years, auditors concluded, the solar projects studied will fall $25.1 million short of paying for themselves.

Now who do you suppose is going to pay for that short fall? If the Navy panels are not panning out what about all those solar panels that Nevada City installed. I tried to get the stats on the the cost and the payback, but I was told there was not way to calculate the true benefits due to the highly varying PG&E rates. It was a big math problem and the city staff was not up to the challenge.  Sounded to me like I was being brushed off with some was-was horse manure.  If they can not measure the saving, how do they know if if the installation was worth the tax payer investment?  This seems like this might be a good election issue. Spending tax dollar with not accountable return on the investment.

For that matter, what about the solar panels the County has installed. Are they paying off?  Maybe another election issue?



About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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