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Solar power's future looks bright in California

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
September 1, 2006


Allow me a shout out to Governor Schwarzenegger on his signing of SB1, the California Solar Initiative. Completing his "million solar roofs plan" keep California on the cutting edge of renewable energy, while boosting the economy, Schwarzenegger is taking a small step in the inevitable direction.

Arnold should be commended for doing the right thing when he does it.

I'm not a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, as actor or Governor. Truth be told I didn't vote him, for nor will I. Still I have to admit Arnold is not the nightmare I thought he would be. In signing SB1, the Gubernator hopes to generate 3,000 megawatts of clean solar power by providing rebates to lower the cost of installing solar panels on residential homes.

It's a start right?

For those interested, it's important to note that 1,000 megawatts equal one gigawatt, and the state of California used close to 500,000 gigawatts of electricity last year.

Instead of complaining about a disproportionate response to an overwhelming need, I choose to see this as the beginning of a paradigm shift. Residential rebates are a start, by helping homes become more self sufficient, California can help mitigate the effects of global warming resulting from the use of fossil fuel technologies.

As a Republican, Governor Schwarzenegger's support for solar generation carries extra weight. The Green Party has been advocating a solar-based economy for years with little success. Even if this is an election cycle stunt on his part, it is one I am glad to see.

Next I would like to see the governor introduce a state legislation that would require solar in all new homes. Think about it. If the State of California can mandate all public, commercial and industrial buildings, and multi-family units to include fire sprinklers, they can just as easily require by state law that all new buildings, regardless of purpose, to integrate solar in all construction.

Governor Schwarzenegger could also incentivize energy conservation. Imagine the savings to be generated by families using less energy in the conduct of their daily lives. Here is where tax credits can reward consumers while encouraging environmental stewardship. While we're on the subject, tax incentives for water conservation are also needed.

Learning to live with less is in the best interest of all Californians. OK, maybe not energy companies like SDG&E and the politicians they support, but the majority of Californians. Adapting to a rapidly changing world, California can mitigate the economic crisis that will result in failing to do so.

I would like to think, that in signing SB1, Schwarzenegger is signaling a shift in the Republican Party back to their conservative roots. Solar energy is no longer science fiction, and there is money to be made taping this unlimited resource. California, always ahead of the curve, is ideally situated to benefit from solar generation. I think the governor understands this.

Encouraging energy self-sufficiency of California homeowners is visionary, and Arnold should be encouraged to continue his support of solar energy research and regulatory efforts aimed at conservation.

Energy independence should be the goal of the State of California, and every Californian. Solar is one way to achieve that, I'm glad the governor is moving us in that direction.

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