Saturday, January 12

Energy (and bird house)

Our solar panels have gone from car-slowing oddity to just another piece of the landscape existing in our side field. When we first had them installed, people walking their dogs would stop and shoot curious glances toward them while their dog found something interesting in the tall grass. People would slow their cars and I think I even saw someone take a picture once.

I didn't blame them - it did look a little out of place at first - a very large solar array perched on a pole in the side field, standing sentinel over the garden shed and vegetable garden. I was a little taken back by the size of it, even though all our research told us the sizes we would need for energy production.

But now, it is just part of the yard. A large, energy producing perch for birds. That part drives Roy mad in that they sit on the very top, rear ends panel-side, and let nature take its course. He keeps meaning to get out there every spring with a ladder, a bucket of water and a long-handled brush, but so far he hasn't found the time.

I'm not complaining. Those panels cover over half of our electric bill. And we don't waste when it comes to electric.

Every time I go to the grocery store, I see how birds have made nests in the most unlikely of places - integrating their lives into what people have put around them. The little nooks in between the G's and A's and O's in the over sized lettering, the opening at the end of the covered cart return, and the smallest crack in the overhang about the entrance has little bits of straw stained with white sticking out. And now I have birds nesting in the hollow spaces behind the panels. And I don't mind a bit.

I don't even mind the poo in the spring. 


  1. Meredith, if you don't mind my asking, did you receive any tax "breaks" the year you purchased your solar panels? Also, how many years do you estimate it will take for them to pay for themselves?

  2. Hi Staci,
    Yes, we did receive the Federal tax credit for the year we bought them, which was 30% of the total cost. New York State also had a 30% program at the time.
    We estimate that it will take 10 years for them to pay for themselves, but we did buy them about 3 or 4 years ago, so the solar panels have come down in price since then.
    Here is a link to a New York information site: