Going green at a big price

The folks at Splash City in Collinsville are all pumped up over how their solar panel project is already paying off. The panels were installed in March, and Splash City saved $700 on its April electric bill.

“We were kind of amazed,” said administrative assistant Kim Derossett. “We were all very happy.”

Well, sorry to burst their bubble, but those cost savings aren’t that amazing considering the project’s price tag of $853,347. If the district averaged savings of $700 a month, it would take 101 years to recoup the project’s cost. We won’t live to see the break-even day, and neither will our children.

Maybe that $700 is conservative, but of course Splash City isn’t open 12 months a year.

The marketing director of the company that installed the solar panels said the price has significantly dropped in the past five years, making them more affordable.

Affordable to a public entity spending other people’s money, we guess. The private Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation paid 49 percent of the cost. But no private business would invest in a capital project that took a century to pay for itself.

Going green is a great idea in theory, but the reality is the dollars have to make sense. These numbers don’t add up.