State and Local Governments’ Substantial Impacts in the Rise of Solar Energy
States and cities really drive the shift to renewable energy. The executive branch has little influence on state and local rules promoting solar initiatives for homes and businesses.
Here is a brief overview of just a few of the many cities moving full speed ahead in the shift to solar.
In Nebraska’s capital, Mayor Beutler’s Cleaner Greener Lincoln is giving sustainable energy a big boost. The initiative offers a Solar Empowerment guide, helping city residents and businesses seize the day.
The Solar Examples page on the Lincoln government’s website is as practical as it comes, posting photos and tips from residents who have made the shift.
The residents’ advice?
- Avoid working with remotely based contractors. For best knowledge and results, work with a reputable contractor from your local area.
- Research what you’re having done. Understand what the solar panel installation company is proposing. If possible, go over the plan with independent experts.
- Get proposals and price quotes from several different firms and compare what they’re offering.
- Know how much you are willing to spend, so you’re comfortable getting varied quotes for distinct sizes and levels of efficiency.
- Consult with your municipal electric service, and then seek input from solar installation firms.
- Select a company with an expert who’s experienced in the installation of residential solar panels and knows how to work with your municipal electric grid on energy-connecting projects.
- Think about whether it would make sense to replace your roofing before installing the panels.
It might come as a surprise to some, but Texas is out front in the shift to renewable power.
The mayor of Georgetown, conservative Republican Dale Ross, made an appearance in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” sequel. Under Ross, Georgetown will be one of the first U.S. cities to go 100% renewable, as it engages a new solar farm contractor in West Texas.
Pointing out that the supply of sun and wind is infinite, Ross anticipates the limits of natural gas. With solar, Georgetown residents will have price certainty on their electricity for decades, Ross says. And given the pollutants kept out of the atmosphere, Ross observes, everyone wins.
Los Angeles, CA
By late 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti had declared that one of the city’s key priorities would be the installation of PV panels and the reduction of greenhouse emissions. Red-tape cutting followed.
The L.A. Department of Building and Safety initiated advanced training on solar photovoltaic inspections. The Power Department streamlined paperwork, expediting solar connections with the city power grid.
California, of course, has long been at the leading edge. The state’s new plan to cut CO2 emissions to 40% under 1990 levels came out on the day the Trump White House website reaffirmed the intention to end the previous administration’s Climate Action Plan.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has adopted a renewable portfolio standard to make a fourth of electricity sales renewable with solar included, by 2021. The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard in Pennsylvania will ensure 18% renewable electricity by 2021 (up from a recent 4%)—with a .5% minimum coming from photovoltaic installations.
And the cities are shifting in an even bigger way. In June 2017, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, city leaders resolved to go 100% renewable by 2035.
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu told the press that a U.S. national policy on renewables is forming. It’s being run by the cities, which have a duty to respond to circumstances.
A more impactful political factor faced by the solar industry than the stance of President Trump is the lobbying power of fossil-based utility companies. Arguing that private solar users get an unfair advantage when they sell energy back to the grid at retail cost, the lobbyists hope to end household solar panel installation incentives.
So far, they have succeeded in persuading many states to review their solar policies. Some states have buckled under the pressure against net metering. Other states are considering raising their rates for solar-powered households.
The utilities are also pressing the federal government to slow the country’s shift to rooftop solar power.
Then there’s Family Businesses for Affordable Energy, a lobbying company that has sent robocalls to undermine a new bill creating a household solar energy requirement in South Miami. The calls falsely state that homeowners would be forced to pay up to $25,000 for their panels.
Clearly, supporters of solar energy must stay on guard.
Why Solar’s Economic Outlook Through 2040 Remains Positive
Local, state, and national anti-solar lobbying notwithstanding, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects solar to keep rising through 2040, as capital costs go down and corporations—including giants such as Wal-Mart—continue shifting to renewable energy.
Additionally, we see strong impetus to sustain Congress’s renewal of federal tax credits for solar, as the solar sector creates U.S. jobs much faster than coal does.
Natural gas has replaced coal in U.S. power generation; and according to David Richardson, global marketing head of Impax Asset Management, should natural gas prices jump significantly, support for solar will strengthen.
Why Switch to Solar Sooner Rather Than Later
Nearly 30 scientists contributed as a team to work out the plan. They examined the capacities of 139 nations to move into 100% water, wind, and solar power over the coming three decades.
The group found such important benefits attainable through the plan that they have urged a shift to renewables as fast as it can be done, and retirement of fossil-fuel energy early wherever possible.
And if their findings have validity, then it makes parallel sense for individual homeowners to make the move now.
An Authentic Win-Win for Our Atmosphere, Ourselves
The research team says we’ll be cutting up to 4.6 million premature, pollution-related deaths yearly through this energy shift.
At the same time, we are all raising the likelihood that we can hold the Earth’s temperatures to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
With less carbon polluting the atmosphere, we all benefit. We at The Solar Digest commend you in your household effort to make our atmosphere, and our lives, safer and more healthful.
Joule / Elsevier
Boston Globe / New York Times
Lincoln, NE Government