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  • Tuesday, December 18, 2012


    Solar Panels for Every Home

    David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., December 12, 2012 (NY Times)

    “…Residents of New Jersey and New York have lived through three major storms in the past 16 months, suffering through sustained blackouts, closed roads and schools, long gas lines and disrupted lives, all caused by the destruction of our electric system. When our power industry is unable to perform its most basic mission of supplying safe, affordable and reliable power, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to run the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles.

    “…[P]ortable gas-powered generators…[are] dirty, noisy and expensive…[and] have no value outside of a power failure. And they’re not much help during a failure if gasoline is impossible to procure…[W]e believe there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses…Solar photovoltaic technology can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and our dependence on the grid. Electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, on the roofs of warehouses and big box stores and over parking lots can be wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails.”

    “Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states…[but] the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers…[and] state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs [25 percent to 30 percent]…a higher percentage of the overall cost than the solar equipment…

    “…More than one million Germans [with streamlined permitting] have installed solar panels on their roofs. Australia also has a streamlined permitting process and has solar panels on 10 percent of its homes. Solar photovoltaic power would give America the potential to challenge the utility monopolies, democratize energy generation…transform millions of homes and small businesses into energy generators..[and] energy entrepreneur…create millions of domestic jobs…[cut the nation’s emissions…[A]s we rebuild the tens of thousands of houses and commercial buildings damaged and destroyed by the storm, let’s incorporate solar power arrays and other clean energy technologies…[and wire them] so they still are generating even when the centralized grid system is down…All we need is the political will.”


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