David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an excellent op-ed in the New York Times calling for Solar Panels for Every Home, the price of which has dropped by 80% in the last five years.
Crane and Kennedy start by noting that utilities are urgently rebuilding the exact same antiquated electric power grid build of vulnerable copper wire and wooden poles that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, instead of superior 21st century options that should include solar panels on every home and building.
And, while many are investing in dirty, noisy, and expensive portable gas-powered generators to gain some degree of "grid independence," Kennedy and Crane suggest that placing solar panels on every home and building would be a far more cost-effective way of improving our energy security, reducing our energy costs, and reducing fossil fuel emissions.
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. So why isn’t there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity? ...Today, navigating the regulatory red tape constitutes 25 percent to 30 percent of the total cost of solar installation in the United States, according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and, as such, represents a higher percentage of the overall cost than the solar equipment itself.
By comparison, the federal government of Germany streamlined and standardized permitting which can now be done in as little as 8 days, instead of the 120 to 180 days it can take in the U.S.
More than one million Germans 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 and transform millions of homes and small businesses into energy generators. Rational, market-based rules could turn every American into an energy entrepreneur. That transition to renewable power could create millions of domestic jobs and power in this country with American resourcefulness, initiative and entrepreneurial energy while taking a substantial bite out of the nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases and other dangerous pollutants.
I agree with Crane and Kennedy that we need to eliminate complex and fragmented web of "regulatory hurdles impeding solar generation" and also and renew the "renewable energy tax credit — which Congress seems poised to eliminate — to balance the subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuel producers."
What a tremendous opportunity for a jobs stimulus plan. As Kennedy and Crane conclude, "the technology is here, we just need the political will" to do it."
Please let your representatives know you care and support national streamlined regulation, (which I believe is sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders,) and an extension of the renewable energy tax credit so we can build a better future.