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Page added on December 9, 2016

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Solar Power is Community Power

Alternative Energy

Do you think solar panels are only for the affluent and for a small circle of elite environmentalists? Maybe that used to be the case, but not anymore! Community solar is here to turn that image upside down by offering solar benefits to all.

First of all, let’s start by considering conventional energy production. Apart from causing climate change as we all know, burning fossil fuels directly harms many communities nationwide and abroad. And the unjust disproportionate impacts of fossil fuels speak to social justice issues, beyond just energy. This devastation for people and the planet has some people calling  for a paradigm shift, and certainly underscores the need for a new way of doing business. Burning fossil fuels, no matter how you look at it, is an unfair game where only a few actually gain.

Now we have the technologies to ensure a better tomorrow. Renewable energy can boost the local economy without having the side effects mentioned above. This is why even the old, tired utilities are increasingly embracing solar. Solar power is for all and is getting more and more economically feasible. As the sun shines for everyone, it’s just a question of how we harvest it. So what if each community were to plan their own clean energy future? Available resources vary a lot depending on the location, but overall the power is in our hands!

Sustainability is not a luxury made for a select group of people, because we all need clean air and water. Guaranteeing a healthy environment can go along with affordable electricity prices. In fact, energy production can be managed as a common asset, with the community’s interest at its center. Most people in the U.S. cannot put panels on their roofs (especially in urban areas), but we can join in a community solar project. Having more control of the energy production and supply also brings economic benefits with it. Solar trailblazers in Maryland have shown this already: organized, we win. And these advantages can be enjoyed by everyone, without leaving less affluent people behind.

This is how shared renewables become a relevant tool to build more equitable communities. Because accessing cheaper energy and cleaner air is a fundamental social justice issue, many constituencies are engaged in it. Why should we be stuck in an old “dirty energy” system while we can now choose solar power? It is in the community’s best interest to get everyone involved and embrace the sun! Faith institutions, NGOs, Homeowners and Tenants Associations, and others can raise awareness among their stakeholders. Together, we can build a future that is meant for everyone!

The bottom line is that protecting the environment and fighting climate change is not only for tree-huggers. It is in everyone’s best interest. It can become part of our daily lives and of a more general societal progress. Thanks to community solar, we can turn consumers into real communities, sharing clean, affordable renewable energy. The first step to changing our energy future is getting involved. Join us as we create a cleaner, greener Maryland while saving people’s money with affordable community solar power.

energy collective

11 Comments on "Solar Power is Community Power"

  1. penury on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 4:22 pm 

    When you accomplish “a cleaner greener Maryland,” Get back to us.

  2. rockman on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 4:22 pm 

    “Most people in the U.S. cannot put panels on their roofs (especially in urban areas), but we can join in a community solar project”.

    Not necessary if your state and utility companies are as proactive as they are in Texas. Texas world class wind and developing solar alts are community wide systems. For instance a city near to the state capital, Georgetown, is in the process of the entire community (affluent, middle class and poor) going 100% green. From March 2015:

    “Georgetown’s municipal utility has unveiled plans to tap wind and solar energy to meet all of its customers’ power needs, making it the first Texas city-owned utility to abandon fossil fuels.

    A Central Texas city is waving goodbye to fossil fuels. Georgetown’s municipal utility on Wednesday unveiled plans to abandon traditional electricity sources like coal and gas power plants, instead exclusively tapping wind and solar energy to meet all of its customers’ power needs. It is the state’s first city-owned utility to make that leap.

    The city announced a 25-year deal with SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy company, to buy 150 megawatts of solar power beginning next year. The company said it would build a solar farm in West Texas to meet the demand. Last year, Georgetown signed a contract for 144 megawatts of wind energy through 2039. That electricity comes from an EDF Renewables wind farm 50-miles west of Amarillo.”

    But a couple of important footnotes. First, “community” in this case includes the entire state. Had not our state govt spent $7 BILLION in tax payer money to expand the electric grid Georgetown’s plan would not have had a chance. It’s very difficult to impossible for any “community” of size to develop a significant alt energy base without local govt, voter, utility and private industry cooperation.

    Second, Georgetown’s politicians made it very clear when they made the pitch to go 100% green: the primary motivation was economic and not environmental. Given the state’s dependency on NG for electrical generation and its price volatility ($2 to $13 per MCF) over just the last 10 years Georgetown wanted to lock in a set rate. Higher then the current rate but much lower then it would be in the future when NG prices boomed again. And it was that guaranteed higher rate that allowed the utility/investors to commit the huge amount of upfront capex required.

    Expecting any “community” of significant size to pay more for its power JUST for the sake of the environment alone has always and will always be a weak plan IMHO.

  3. makati1 on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 5:29 pm 

    One town does not make a state. Texas has bigger troubles than solar electric and the price of oil. LOL

  4. Davy on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 5:35 pm 

    Rolla, is my nearest town. Here is our story of community solar power.
    “Rolla solar farm expected to be online in spring”

    “About the Rolla Solar Farm
    Here are some quick facts about the Rolla Solar Farm that is expected to be providing power by April:
    – Located at 2301 Brewer Drive in Rolla.
    – More than 10,000 solar panels, state-of-the-art components used to convert solar energy to match the voltage on the current Rolla power grid.
    – 3.19-megawatt capacity.
    – More than 30 miles of wiring.
    – One of the largest in the state.
    – Rolla is the fifth such project for Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP) in collaboration with MC Power Companies after Butler, Macon and Trenton Solar Farms have been completed. The Marshall Solar Farm is underway.”

  5. Boat on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 6:32 pm 

    Locking in rates for 20 years is a huge incentive. Solar and wind will only grow where it makes business sense to any scale. I read 1/3 of all solar that is not a commercial large display is charged little or no money. A third party business that puts money on roof tops are doing it for money. What does the customer get. A slightly lower rate to the same rate. The selling point? A locked in 20 year rate.

  6. GregT on Fri, 9th Dec 2016 8:42 pm 

    Texas A&M Today
    Where does our food come from?

    “Aleda Roth, the Burlington Industries Distinguished Professor in Supply Chain Management at Clemson University, is visiting Texas A&M as a Faculty Fellow of the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS), a program that attracts eminent scholars from around the world to study, teach and conduct research alongside Aggie students and faculty.”

    “Roth’s six-year investigation of global food supply chains has resulted in revelations that may surprise and alarm most American consumers.”

    “Almost a quarter of the average American’s food consumption is imported,” Roth says. “Consumers would be hard pressed to find processed foods without at least one ingredient from China.”

    Probably a bit more prudent to focus on food production, then to be so concerned about keeping the AC on.

  7. Davy on Sat, 10th Dec 2016 4:45 am 

    Most of this “quarter” of America’s food imports is nonessential, seasonal, and luxury. We have no problem feeding ourselves here in the states. There is plenty of food and food diversity here with a modified diet that will modify as the collapse process accelerates. Asia on the other hand where most of the global people live is entirely dependent on imports for food security because their imports are the basics of the food chain not the top of the food chain. This is especially true of China. All locations are dependent on food imputes that are imports. Oil and in many case minerals like phosphorous are a global commodity all locations must have to support the monocultures of industrial agriculture.

  8. rockman on Sat, 10th Dec 2016 10:00 am 

    Mak – “One town does not make a state.”. True. OTOH the state of Texas, population 25 MILLION, on average gets 10+% of its electricity from alt energy. And once again: this was a result of a COOPERATIVE effort by all parties. An effort based on solid economics and not just over environmental concerns.

    Davy – Missouri Public Energy Pool certainly deserves credit. Every little bit helps…no matter how little. So how many more Rolla sized projects will it take to supply Missouri’s 6 million folks with 10% of their electricity? Any details on the financing behind the project such as higher initial rates or support from state govt? Hopefully as solar gets cheaper there will be significant expansion across the country.

  9. Davy on Sat, 10th Dec 2016 12:09 pm 

    Rock, Missouri is behind on introduction of alternative sources. We are not an optimum location for wind. The northwest of the state is not bad. I think more of our opportunity comes from sources in Kansas or Oklahoma exporting their excess our way. Solar is not optimum but better than wind. Missouri is not a leading edge state for alternative energy development because of opportunity and the public’s willingness. I will check into how this project was financed and get back to you.

  10. Cloggie on Sat, 10th Dec 2016 12:37 pm 

    My favorite American pod-caster Greg Hunter reports from Missouri; says no complaints of climate problems or drought:

    Seems that ethanol prospects in this agrarian state look good:

    And 15% renewable energy by 2021 is pretty good (electricity I assume).

  11. rockman on Sat, 10th Dec 2016 4:58 pm 

    Davy – Yep, Texas has a big geographical advantage over probably every other state so not a fair comparison. A bigger question would be what Arizona and New Mexico are up to. NM only has 2 million folks but Az has the same pop as you.

    The point I’ll keep pushing is that Texas wouldn’t even be on the board with respect to any alt without a huge amount of state govt/tax payer/consumer/industry support. And that would not have happened without the economic incentives.

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