Solar energy gains popularity in St. MaartenPOSTED: 02/13/12 3:07 PM
Library works on solar energy project
St. Maarten – The Philipsburg Jubilee Library is looking for sponsors to fund a solar energy project. Director Monique Alberts has approached several businesses with a request to sponsor a 5 kilowatt solar system; the costs are $17,000 and the system will save the library a bit more than 16.5 percent on its energy bill. The library works on the project together with Anthony Prall Jr., owner of the Caribbean Energy Store. He will install the system at no expense.
Once the system is installed, Prall will give monthly information sessions about solar energy at the library.
Prall told this newspaper that he will install a public monitor in the library’s lobby, where visitors are able to see how much energy the solar system generates.
While there has been much talk in the past about alternative energy sources, on a national level not much has been done. But businesses and home owners are getting increasingly fed up with relentless power cuts and skyrocketing energy bills. These conditions have driven the private sector to take matters into their own hands.
“Solar power is the way to go for St. Maarten,” Prall says. “In the past four years my company has installed solar systems at 35 private homes and at ten businesses.”
Prall practices what he preaches: he has installed 69 solar panels on his home in Guana Bay. “I run 5 air conditioning systems 24/7 and I have a GEBE bill of just $23.” To prove this point, Prall showed us a copy of his energy bill.
The library is also looking forward to installing solar panels on the roof of the library bus. For this project the library is also looking for a sponsor to donate the equipment.
Prall was recently forced to take down two wind turbines on his property in Guana Bay, after the Home Owners association took him to court. Shortly afterwards, his neighbor, Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, erected a wind turbine on his property.
But wind turbines are not as effective as solar panels, Prall says. “For a wind turbine to produce to capacity, the wind has to be blowing 24/7. We have had a couple of weeks with plenty of wind, but it is not constant. The sun is practically always out there.”
On his website caribbeanenergystore.com, Prall says that an average residential solar system costs between $5,500 and $25,000. Offset against $100,000 in electricity bills over the next 30 years makes the investment worthwhile.
Prall quotes a Dr. Johnson on his home page, who said: “When you think about the alternative energy as an investment vehicle it actually makes great sense for today’s economic environment. What other investment of $10,000 will return $45,000 in five years? Between a savings of let’s say $4000 a year on energy bills and appreciation of $25K on value of the house that’s a $45,000 return within five years on an investment of $10,000 and there’s zero speculation, risk, etc. It’s an unbeatable investment vehicle! Hell people are hoarding cash and burying it in their backyards, why not “bury it” on your roof and get a great return?”