I am one of those people who don't practice what they preach. I believe in preserving the environment, consider myself green, and try to recycle. However, in reality I have a huge a carbon footprint: I have 5 children (while visiting in the States I have been told on several occasions that it was very selfish to have so many children because it strains natural resources), live in a Settlement outside the city and commute to work, have a big house , eat meat etc… I have been trying to find ways of reducing my carbon footprint/ease my conscience. To this end I went to a presentation by a company called SolarPower that manufactures a grid connected solar power system based on PV panels.
In the beginning of July, Israel passed a resolution requiring the Electric Company to buy back any solar energy produced by consumers at home. We pay ~ 0.5 NIS per KWH and the Electric Company has to buy it back for ~2 NIS per KWH. It sounds fantastic, but don't go running to get your checkbook so fast. The simple math that the SolarPower representative did was that the units pay for themselves in 10 years. Since the panels are under warranty for 20 year, you get 10 years of profit. However, what they only mention quickly and hope you won't hear it is that the transformer only is under a 10 year warranty. The transformer is expensive and delicate so figure you will need a new one in 10 years. All in all, I think over a 20 year time period we will break even if we invest in this now.
You know what, that just isn't good enough.
It is absurd for Israel to invest money in coal and oil from abroad when we have 330 days of sunshine. Much of this money likely winds up with terrorists as well. We should use the model created in the US to give people an incentive to use solar power. Anyone who buys a solar power system should get a discount in income tax. That way the system would pay for itself in 5 years and the average (read selfish) consumer would have a big financial incentive to buy it.
Unfortunately, Israel has a long way to go in terms of encouraging responsible greener policy. For example, I can get a leased hybrid car from work instead of my gasoline-only one -- and this would be much better for the environment. However, since the taxable-benefit class level of the car is above my current one, I would have to pay extra for the "privilege" of lowering the damage to the environment. While I am willing to do my part, if the government makes it more difficult for consumers to be environmentally-friendly I'm not willing to spend even more.
Reminds me of when I purchased a car 12 years ago (full price, not on oleh discount rights) -- I made sure to buy ABS brakes and airbags. Those additional security/safety features were considered "luxury" add ons, and contributed to an even higher tax price on the car! It took time, and now those "luxuries" aren't taxed any more.
And then there's the current water shortage, but that's a topic for another post.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד