It’s time for a solar revolution  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , ,

Grist has a post from Senator Bernie Sanders on his solar power bill - It’s time for a solar revolution.

This country spends, in a typical year, $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries. While this is no doubt good news for the Saudi royal family, one of the richest in the world, it is bad news for the average American.

The vast majority of the American people understand that now is the time to move to energy independence so that we are no longer subject to the greed of OPEC or Wall Street speculators, or need to fight “wars for oil” in the Middle East. Americans also know that if we are serious about addressing environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the imperative to create millions of good-paying jobs, we must move aggressively to energy efficiency and such sustainable technologies as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass.

Thomas Edison, one of history’s greatest inventors said; “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” He was right then, in 1931, and he remains right today. The American people agree. Today, 92 percent of all Americans want our country to develop solar energy resources, and 77 percent believe the federal government should make solar power development a national priority.

That is why I was joined by 10 of my colleagues (Senators Whitehouse, Cardin, Gillibrand, Merkley, Lautenberg, Leahy, Boxer, Menendez, Specter, and Harkin) in introducing the Ten Million Solar Roofs Act. The bill is all of 9 pages and is pretty straightforward. It calls for 10 million new solar rooftop systems and 200,000 new solar water heating systems over the next 10 years. When fully implemented, this legislation would lead to 30,000 megawatts of new photovoltaic energy, triple our total current U.S. solar energy capacity. It will increase by almost 20 times our current energy output from photovoltaic panels. The legislation will rapidly increase production of solar panels, driving down the price of photovoltaic systems. It also would mean the creation of over a million new jobs. The passage of this bill would dramatically reorient our energy priorities and would be a major step forward toward a clean energy future for the United States. ..

Interestingly, while solar has a great deal of public support, you might not know that from listening to energy debates in Congress. As a member of both the energy and environment committees, I am constantly astounded by how many of my colleagues prefer to focus on what the government can do for the nuclear or coal industries, rather than why the government should support clean and sustainable energy. In fact, many senators and congressmen are fighting for a “nuclear renaissance” and want the federal government to offer loan guarantees covering the cost to build 100 new nuclear plants. This could place at risk up to $1 trillion in taxpayer money.

In my view, this is an absurd proposal. First, it is enormously expensive and financially risky. Second, if we don’t know how to safely dispose of the highly toxic nuclear waster we currently have, what are we going to do with the new waste generated by 100 additional plants?


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