Seeing the Light

<p><em>First a little background. I live in Virginia on a third of an acre in a single family home. The southern half of the property&nbsp;is wooded with a stand of 70 - 80 foot tall trees. The house itself is T-shaped, with roofs facing each of the cardinal points on the compass. </em></p>
<p>I decided to get solar panels for my home to (a) reduce my energy footprint in state that is primarily supplied by coal-fired power plants (b) reduce my energy costs. I went to a number of suppliers and here is what I was told:</p>
<p>There are no tax incentives in Virginia for putting solar panels on residences, therefore it is not financially advantageous to do so. Second, Virginia does not allow consumers to &lsquo;sell back' power to the grid when use is below what is generated by the panels; instead I could &lsquo;only' get a credit toward my next bill and third, because our south-facing exposure is wooded (which keeps the yard and house substantially cooler in the summer months), it is unlikely that I would be able to generate enough power for my entire home anyway. Lastly I was told that it would not add to the resale value of my home.</p>
<p>So, here I was, actively interested in pursuing alternative energy - and being just as actively discouraged from doing so based on purely economic models. When I suggested that I might do it just because I was committed to a better planet, I was told that they're really concentrating on Commercial applications unless I wanted to move to Maryland or Washington DC where incentives are in place that make it more worthwhile.</p>
<p>This happened at three different companies.</p>
<p>I am a firm proponent that things that help the environment and reduce costs (or promote efficiency) are just as &lsquo;right' as things that &lsquo;only' help the environment, but I have to ask - why would people who make their living (economic pillar) go to such great lengths to discourage someone who is interested in buying their products and services when the economic model is not there? And how does that square with the many people I have met who think that &lsquo;going green' is a moral imperative that is somewhat sullied when the economic argument supports the action. "People should do it because it is right for the planet, even if it costs more" is the mantra that they espouse.</p>
<p>My concern is that there&nbsp;seems we have a major disconnect between the true believers and those who make their living marketing &lsquo;green' alternatives. Consumers must accept that there can be a financial benefit to doing the right thing and sales people must&nbsp;recognize that a portion of their market&nbsp;will want to buy their products just because it is the right thing to do.</p>