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Solar panels can be a good neighbor

Updated on May 2, 2012
2011 | Source

Good Morning AnnaCia-

I tried to leave this as a comment, but got too wordy. So here it is as a hub.

Sometimes its hard to understand all of the moving pieces that underlie govenment actions and policies. In difficult economic times, particularly, there is a delicate balancing act that governments must gauge between available services and the cost (and necessary supporting revenues) of these services.

Though governments rarely sell their lands or buildings, in some cases it is maybe the best option, or maybe the only option, to meeting the financial requirements of its constituents (citizens).

In the case of solar panels, folks may not understand the land use and planning related to them. In planning, there are greenfields (parks) and brownfields (blighted). There is also a third, brightfield. A brightfield is clean electronic (typically), non polluting equipment and is a more preferred (higher) use that a brownfield. Solar panels meet the requirements of a brightfield.

With solar panels there are many levels of financial and environmental benefits. The energy produced is essentially free (no fuel cost). There are federal, state and county rebates, there are tax credits, there are renewable energy credits, there are utility rebates, and there is also depreciation.

Solar electrical generation is pollution free (air, water, soil) and consumes no water. All of the coal and oil typically used (and mined and transported) to fire utililty plants is conserved. This project also reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and strengthens our electric grid with its distibuted generation. From a community standpoint, this is solid leadership by example. This type of project also has direct instructional benefit to school children.

Taking the common NIMBY (not in my backyard) approach is easy, but does nothing to meet any of the very worthy goals listed above or the issues facing your town. Would you rather have a recreation center, library, city dump, firehouse or other government facility next to you? The solar project has no traffic, no noise, and no lights, all the while representing a money-saving, pollution saving and natural resource saving endeavor.

Oh, and yes, I have put my money and reputation where my mouth is. As the Director of Utilities for a large western city (until my retirement a few years ago), I was responsible for the placement of many megawatts of solar panels on government buildings and lands. And, yes, I have them on my house too.

I would urge you to take pride in, and not offense to, your community's energy conservation/management efforts.



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    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado

      Hello Alphagirl-

      The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has excellent software (free) to calculate the expected generation of a solar array anywhere in the world. With this knowlege and the decreasing cost of solar acquisition, its just a matter of simple mathmatics. For example a 10 KW array in Seattle will generate about 10,000 KWH per year and Burlington Vermont will see about 12,000 KWH per year.

      Indeed, many, many major cities take advantage of solar within their boundaries. Usually on rooftops, but occassionally on blighted land - thereby upgrading the land from brownfield to brightfield (which should appeal to your designer's eye). In regards to residential rooftops most of the modern solar is innocuous and not particularly obtrusive. Is it a Van Gogh? No, but then a Van Gogh doesn't produce power.

      Yes, empowering and training your children to be energy conscious is great, but it is not the only thing you can do.

      Also, it is true that many electronic devices are "vampires" that continue to draw a small amount of power even when "off". Unplugging them will solve that. There are personal sized solar battery charging stations.

      Thanks for coming by.


    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 5 years ago from USA

      I think much depends on where you live in the country. I do not see solar panel grids in major cities. It is congested. You need sun. What do people in vermont do with less sun or Seattle? My only solution at least for me is to raie my kids to know that if they are not in a room, to shut the light off. Stop wasting electricity!

      The other issue I think is all the electrical gadgets and phones that use power..Ipad, iphone, blackberries, computers, flat panels tv's...we are inumdated with all the stuff.

      Can something solar be made so that i do not have to carry wires and chargers?

      I think you have some great ideas but visually I think solar panels are ugly. But i am a designer's eye.

    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks HWT-

      Appreciate your perspective.


    • HauteWindowTrends profile image

      HauteWindowTrends 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Well I can't really answer that without getting into politics again, (trading dependence on Iran for dependence on China), so I'll bow out of the discussion and vote up your hub!

    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado

      Hello HWT-

      Thanks for your input.

      Separating the technology from the politics can be a chore, what with heated feelings and agenda.

      Nonetheless, the energy savings (and a degree of independence from foreign oil -think Iran today), reduced pollutions, conserved natural resources all accrue to us here, and now. Even if we bought the panel from China.

      Of course it would be much better to produce the panels here, but until we do, do you really care where our medicine comes from until then?


    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado

      Hi John-

      Do I detect a blackadder amongst us?

      If not, then I am at a loss...


    • HauteWindowTrends profile image

      HauteWindowTrends 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Yeah I'm kinda on the fence on this one. Solindra's just down the road from me, seeing the building shut down after all the promise from it's proponents, I'm just not sure how we can compete in the US market with solar panels.

      I must say the solar panels out today are much more attractive than the ugly things you'd get back in the 80's.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 5 years ago

      I think what American Romance is trying to say is "sod my grandchildren, I'm OK as I am"

      No doubt there were many who poo-pooed the idea of the motor car, there's plenty of horses left!

    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado

      American Romance-

      Wow. I am stunned at your vitriol. I provided a straight forward disucssion on potential benefits from solar photovoltaics, not any sort of forum on Obama or politics.

      I can, and did, make a solid financial case for acquiring solar for the government I worked for and myself, which was my driving factor. The environmentals were ancillary, though nice.

      We should consider all forms of energy and weigh them against each other in costs (all in, including mining, transportation, reliability, pollutions) to produce a reasonable energy portfolio. No one single energy source will suffice.

      Since I was able to avail myself (personally) of all of the rebates, credits, and tax treatments, solar was a 25 month payback. For a system that is warranted for 20 years I have every reason to believe that long after full payback, I will be getting free energy, conserving natural resources and reducing pollution. (My system has been operation since 2008 with no problems.)

      As to ugly, if you didn't know they were on my roof, you wouldn't even notice. In regards to unreliable, perhaps you are thinking of the old (25 years ago) solar hot water systems. New photovoltaics carry long term warranties.

      Yes, only a few of my neighbors have solar. Everyone's financial case and committment is different.

      As to why you might want a solar panel, I guess you wouldn't.


    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 5 years ago from America

      REALLY? After Obama lost a billion dollars of YOUR money?? You still think we should consider solar? How many neighbors do you have with solar panels? They are ugly, non reliable, and a pain in the ass when broken!...........we have hundreds of years of gas and oil!...............WHY would I want a solar panel?