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USA Today Finds Home Solar Panels Not Cost-Effective

News outlet profiles man who lost money installing the panels.

Are solar panels are the way to a bright future of clean energy – or the way to an empty bank account?

On Aug. 14, USA Today profiled a man who built solar panels in his backyard to demonstrate the inefficiency and high costs of solar energy as well as the taxpayer-funded government subsidies he got in the process.

According to the article, Rochester, N.Y. resident Jeffrey Punton installed the solar panels in the backyard of his home for a combined personal and government subsidized price of $42,480. This price doesn’t include maintenance. Punton received $29,500 in government subsidies to install them, which he calls as a “foolish investment.”

In fact, the whole reason he set up this solar panel contraption was as a testament to government waste. “I don't think it's a smart investment to pay someone three times what they're putting in,” Punton said in the article.

He has saved money on his energy bills, but no where near enough to make back the costs to himself and taxpayers. He saves only “several hundred dollars a year” on his energy bills.

USA Today’s willingness to tell Punton’s story is a rarity, among media often hyping solar power. The media have pushed carbon taxes in order to promote green energy solutions. CBS “Evening News” on March 6, 2007, pushed a similar concept to the one Punton tried: a solar power initiative in California. The initiative would end up costing environmentally conscience homeowners who installed the panels about $18,000 – and that’s after factoring in a $5,000 state rebate check.