Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Solar Power

In 2000 Germany passed legislation that that would put solar power on 100,000 roofs throughout the Country through a series of grants and low interest loans. To accompany this plan the German Government mandated that the power companies buy the excess power from the building owners who accepted the low interest loans at 7 times the cost of energy for ten years, thus providing an income equal to the loan payments to the building owners. Basically this enables building owners to install solar power for free on their buildings. The power companies pay more for electricity than they would to generate it but they save on expanding capacity and plant maintenance. The Power Companies were going to build more Nuclear power plants to meet the increase in demand, but with the program demand was cut and the additional nuclear plant was not needed so the power companies did not need the capital intensive investment in a new plant. Everyone benefited from the German Plan. The Building owners were able to install a pollution free power generation system for their building at no cost, the power companies saved on capital improvements and Germany imported less oil. The Solar industry grew and created jobs.

Why is the United States Congress eight years behind in implementing such a such a program? The Congressional leadership has not proposed or implemented any plan that would ween the United States off of oil imports, thus the current situation in America where the working classes are struggling under the sharp rise in energy costs causing the middle class to crumble under the weight of the cost of transportation, heating and cooling.

At the very least, the Congress should enact and fund a program that will install solar power on every Federal Facility throughout the Country. The Technology is there right now and with a massive program of retrofitting all Federal installations many jobs would be created across a broad spectrum of the American workforce. Jobs from installers to researchers, and developers would open up throughout the solar industry. Germany has many companies that are now considered the leaders in solar power and installations. America should be a leader in this field but the oil lobby controls the politicians who suck up the campaign funds offered by the industry to maintain their status.

The Congress should also enact and fund a program for every government building on all levels from State Buildings to municipal buildings to install alternative energy solutions on all government buildings including every school building. If every government building in the Nation converted to solar, wind, geothermal or any form of alternative renewable energy it would decrease the amount of oil that the United States would have to import and burn. There would be a significant difference in the quality of the air with so many buildings running without emissions.

The third prong of a Congressional program should be modeled after the German project, where a set number of private buildings both commercial and residential would be given grants and low interest loans to convert to an alternative renewable energy source. If the Congress would enact legislation to convert 200,000 buildings a year for ten years the burning of fossil fuels would be drastically reduced, huge power plants would not have to built and the power grid would be fed locally, which would eliminate the loss of energy that occurs during long distance transmission. Are there any leaders in the Congress who would propose an alternative energy program for the Country that would take a bite out of oil imports?

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