Wednesday, November 23, 2011

America Should be Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Development

Bill Gallagher, president of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, responded to the recent Daytona News-Journal's article, "Proceed Carefully on Solar Energy Policy," with a letter to the editor explaining that solar energy makes fiscal sense for Americans.

As appeared in the Daytona News-Journal "Opinions" section November 21, 2011:

Reading Thursday's News-Journal article, "Proceed carefully on solar energy policy," I could not help thinking about the plight of the blacksmith 110 years ago, when the automobile was threatening to replace the horse and buggy. It is easy to envision statements such as, "That new contraption is noisy, it belches smoke, it is too expensive, and it will never amount to anything!" Fortunately, this short-sighted thinking did not deter the development of the automobile, the aircraft or the space shuttle.

As the rest of the world turns to renewable resources as a means of producing clean power, energy security, and a permanent hedge against ever-increasing utility costs, political affiliations continue to divide and effectively paralyze our nation and state from adopting common-sense energy policies.

There is little doubt that some folks, for political reasons, would like to see solar development postponed or eliminated. The recent loan-guarantee debacle has provided fodder for them, and they will continue to attempt to discredit solar utilization using phrases such as "too expensive, too soon, needs more development, hold off, proceed carefully." In the meantime, other nations are moving forward with renewable energy deployment, undeterred by attempts to derail their goal to provide clean, reliable energy for their citizens.

The fact is that the vast majority of Floridians and Americans support the use of solar energy as a cost-effective, viable alternative to conventional energy sources. They are confused by the messages being sent that are contrary to their notion of "common sense."

When they hear "too expensive," they ask "compared to what?" Continuing to purchase electricity to heat water?

Let's make a comparison: A typical solar water-heating system in Florida can be installed for $4,000-$6,000, depending on the size of the family, offset 20-25 percent of a homeowner's utility costs, and pay for itself through energy savings in as little as five years. This means that for every four or five homeowners who install a solar hot-water system, the cost of powering one home is effectively removed from the utility grid. Encouraging Floridians to invest in solar for their homes and businesses reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, saves utility dollars, and creates jobs that are crucial to Florida's economic recovery.

America should be leading the way in renewable energy development and deployment. We have the ingenuity, the determination and the work force to make this happen. It is time to put political persuasions aside and do what is best for our community, our state and our nation.

--Bill Gallagher, Holly Hill