energy efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, solar, hybrid cars and alternate fuels.

"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

7.18.2007

Green Governor?

I'm not even in the state today and I'm hearing fall-out from the recent news that Governor Charlie Crist installed some green technology at his mansion. (Is mansion and energy saving an oxymoron?)

Seems that on the heels of all the publicity over the Climate Summit, the Governor chose to announce that he was sprucing up the mansion with a $70,000 hydrogen fuel cell and some solar panels for the pool to demonstrate his commitment to reducing Florida's carbon emissions. To produce the hydrogen, however, the unit uses natural gas, the by-product is water.

The St. Petersburg Times reported last week that an April energy audit documented a monthly energy bill of between $4,000 and $6,000 (!) per month. Since we, the taxpayers of Florida, pay the bill, it's time to trim a few costs. The downside is that the solar panels and the hydrogen fuel cell will reduce the mansion's emissions by only 20 percent.

But, let's give a little cred for the solar panels for the swimming pool, it's estimated that the $3,500 solar panels installed above the mansion's outdoor swimming pool will pay for themselves in electricity bill savings in about a year, according to the governor's press office. The panels will convert solar power into electricity to heat and circulate water through the pool.

Can I come over with the kids for a swim?

The state has a $3.5-million rebate program to help those who install solar panels and some other energy saving devices:

  • Solar Thermal Systems

Residential $500

Commercial $15 per 1,000 BTUs up to a max of $5,000

  • Solar Photovoltaic Systems ($4.00 per watt)

Residential $20,000

Commercial $100,000

The company that installed the hydrogen fuel cells in the mansion was Plug Power Inc., evidently the only company that responded to the state's competitive bid request.

Leading by example may not include the Governor's comfort-level choice to keep the mansion at a reported "low 70s." The Governor was quoted as saying he agreed that this thermostat setting used a lot of energy.

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