Vail Daily letter: Feel-good political shell game
July 7, 2016
I read the article in the June 30 edition of the Vail Daily indicating that the Eagle County government will spend $1.3 million for solar panels and will save $90,000 per year as a result. The funds for the purchase will come from the Eagle County reserve funds and "reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also cutting county expenses ties directly to our strategic plan goals." The whole story sounds like a fairy tale. We get free kilowatts from the sun, lower county expenses and cut greenhouse gases. Sounds terrific.
Let's slow down and take a careful look at the facts. On a $1.3 million purchase which saves $90,000 per year, you get a financial payback of 14.4 years to break even. This type of capital investment would not get a second look in any successful American business. But wait, the money is free — it comes from the reserve funds — so who needs a payback calculation? Except who put the funds in the reserve account? The taxpayers, of course. And who will be forced to replenish the reserve fund when it gets too low? You guessed it — the taxpayers. The good news is that county expenses go down by $90,000 a year, right? Someone check and tell us when was the last time the county budget went down. This is a feel-good political shell game. Oh, but wait, we get a cut in greenhouse emissions — don't let us forget that. The amount of greenhouse emissions reduced on global warming is the equivalent of spitting in Lake Mead to raise the water level.
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