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Solar Energy Foes Try to 'Block' Sun


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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 March 2010, 10:59 AM
Cartoon-style confrontation in Hawaii is no laughing matter
Photo credit: The Simpsons, "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"

In a popular Simpsons episode, the diabolical Mr. Burns builds a giant disc to eclipse the sun and force Springfield's residents into round-the-clock reliance on electricity from his power plant. It's pitch-perfect cartoon sarcasm, but with a foot firmly in reality: the fledgling U.S. solar industry faces an array of Burnsian obstacles to its growth across the country.

In Hawaii, for example, Earthjustice is taking on a blatant effort by the state's largest utility to block homes and businesses from installing rooftop solar panels, a move that could strangle Hawaii's burgeoning homegrown solar industry, prevent residents and businesses from saving money, and keep the state addicted to imported oil.

If there is anywhere that should be blazing the trail to a clean energy future, it is Hawaii. The islands are blessed with abundant sun, winds, and waves, yet today rely on imported fossil fuels for more than 96 percent of their energy. Hawaii consumers pay the highest electric rates in the nation. The state is trying to chart a new course, but the utility is resisting change and fighting to limit solar access to the local grid.

In so doing, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is holding back much more than just Hawaii. It is hindering an important experiment with solar energy that could provide valuable information to consumers, entrepreneurs, utility owners and policymakers throughout the United States.

Although we certainly need to cut fossil fuel use by promoting solar and other renewable sources of energy, it isn't yet clear which policies are best for encouraging their economy-wide growth. In all likelihood, it will be a combination of approaches. Experimentation is critical to find out which ones will work, and lessons learned in Hawaii could answer some key questions for the rest of the country.

HECO's obstruction is indicative of the myriad challenges the U.S. solar industry faces, especially in places like Hawaii where solar is an absolute no-brainer. A program Hawaii is considering, called a feed-in-tariff, could provide a breakthrough.

Here's how it works. Suppose I install solar panels on the roof of my house that generate more electricity than I need to power my home. Under a feed-in-tariff policy, I can get paid handsomely by the local utility for feeding that excess electricity back into the grid for other consumers to use. This helps to defray the cost of my investment in rooftop solar panels.

A year ago, Gainesville, FL became the first U.S. city to implement a feed-in-tariff for rooftop solar, and now other cities and states, including Hawaii, are hoping to follow in its footsteps. In Gainesville, the policy was unanimously approved by city leaders, who control the local utility. The Gainesville program reached its enlistment quota in just a few days.

But such popularity isn't universal. For-profit utilities, for example, are far less inclined than municipal utilities to back a feed-in-tariff for rooftop solar because it could decrease their earnings or reduce their control over customers' energy consumption. And indeed, in HECO's case, the utility is doing what it can to limit the program's adoption.

America can't afford such limits as we move towards clean, domestically produced energy. In this rapidly changing energy landscape, where a boost in renewable power is an essential goal, old ways of doing business must change.

Many advocate a transformation in which the profits of investor-owned utilities are no longer linked to how much power the utilities sell, but instead with how effectively they serve their customers. Such a switch actually encourages a range of beneficial programs like feed-in-tariffs and energy efficiency.

Encouragement from states and the federal government is critical for overcoming technological and regulatory barriers to the rapid spread of solar power. Government can spur innovation by investing in research to find new ways to harness renewable energy and deliver it affordably to customers on increasingly large scales. After all, for every Mr. Burns-style roadblock (or sunblock) out there, scores of creative and committed innovators are finding ways forward.

There is no silver bullet that will solve our national (and global) energy problems. The path forward demands flexibility, creativity, and a willingness to try everything clean and renewable under the sun.

Kudos to the Earthjustice team for bringing this issue to public. Quite similar to what we did in Palolem

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Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. According to the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 20th century.[2][A] Most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which results from human activity such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation.[3] Global dimming, a result of increasing concentrations of atmospheric aerosols that block sunlight from reaching the surface, has partially countered the effects of greenhouse gas induced warming

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This is exactly why capitalism does not work. Answer: it's a person's home. Go ahead and put up solar panels anyway. It does not matter what the utility says. They cannot arrest you, which means they cannot hold you hostage. It's YOUR property. YOU can do with it what you want. And, if anyone physically tries to stop you, get a gun or a bomb and blow their brains out. Make it legal to do so. There is NO difference between a terrorist versus a soldier. You are a soldier fighting for a just cause. sesli siteler

Trip, that's a great article about sunblock. I'm a huge supporter of alternative energies and even wrote a pretty big paper about it in college. It's a shame how we collectively sit back and watch these companies manipulate our governments and in turn our governments manipulate us. When are we finally going to stand up for what's right and put our foot down? I wrote that paper almost 20 years ago and still nothing has changed. There were supposed to be a large study done on wave energy in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida but I don't believe it ever happened. My guess is that we'll finally wake up when we're paying $5 a gallon for gas in the US, hopefully it won't be too late.

Trip, I'm so glad people like us, see the insanity of big policy chokeholds like this. It really blows my mind. How are business executives still so stilted in thinking for the future.
Thanks for pushing forward. A large supporter.

We have the same problem in Jamaica, only JPS, the biggest thieves in Jamaica, have linked with the government & passed a law that if you have alternative energy JPS will refuse you service.
So on another island with plenty of sun, surf & wind, populated by many large hotels with huge roof space where this type of savings should encourage big biz starting alternative energy initiatives, we have instead biz & government sabotaging these efforts, & we are locked into some of the most expensive & poor quality electric service imaginable.

Thanks once again to the collusion of big biz & government, working together to keep us under their thumbs.

Once again, idiocy reigns supreme bolstered by or initiated by greed.
Not only does Hawaii have the renewable resources, it has the technology gurus in place to bring about sustainable energy industries in several forms:solar, wind and geothermal.(I'm not yet sure about harnessing wave energy.)
On October 10, the World is going to show intransigent politicians that WE THE PEOPLE can mitigate the course of the planet's demise by taking significant steps of our own. These steps will differ from place to place: from planting trees, to building solar panels.
But, the message is the same: when government obstructs by bolstering corruption, and by ignoring the will of the people to return to a saner, sustainable lifestyle, then governments need to be removed from power.
While 350org is not advocating revolution, it is mounting this October 10th event to help people wake up from the delusion of enlightened government and return to self-sufficiency.
Enough Simpsons--Americans are the shame of the developed world and an enemy of emerging third world economies. Instead of squandering billions on a war that accomplishes nothing but death and ruination, this hard-earned tax money could be developing large and small scale alternatives, health care, and truly educating people (rather than just indoctrinating and controlling them.)

How depressing that you're right ... and even more depressing that I am a citizen of not only the US, with it's long, well established, and blatantly criminal history of foreign policy dictated by big business, but also the UK, it's faithful partner in crime.
You only have to look at the documented records of both countries aggressive meddling in mostly Arab, Middle-East (oil producing) nations, and Iran, to see their disastrous attempts to control the world's oil. You'll also discover that with few exceptions, that most non-religious conflicts had one common denominator - American and British involvement! While you're researching this, you'll also discover that this military/industrial-driven policy has NEVER been successful. In fact, it's been one disaster after another! If it weren't so flagrantly criminal, it would be comical in it's cluelessness. The US and the UK just do not understand the Mid-East mind. Never have, and the fact that we're in Iraq, still don't!!!
As a Scot, I find it scarey that most Americans don't know this, and why would they? If you look at who owns (and therefore controls) a dangerously disproportionate size of the mass media in America, it's no wonder - "our freedom of speech is the envy of the world" ... are you kidding? If that's true, why don't Americans know that Iranians distrust them because their first DEMOCRATICLY ELECTED, and Western-freindly gov't was overthrown by the US when it declared it was going to take a second look at what it felt to be unfair deals with US "big oil", and then literally add insult to injury by re-instating it's hated, corrupt, and well regarded American big business puppet, the Shah ? Why don't Americans know that overthrowing Iran's popular democracy is what ultimately led to the Iranian revolution? Or that we knew in Europe that the new Islamic Republic sent Washington a warning that as high as anti-American resentment was in Iran, they couldn't gaurantee it's citizen's safety if they admitted the dying Shah into the US? Or that David Rockefeller, an old chum of the Shah went and did it anyway by flying him into the country on his private jet WITHOUT the gov't's permission and wasn't even held accountable much less prosecuted? ... kind of like the free pass big bankers and Wall St. moguls are getting away with now.
There's not enough time to examine all the conflict, strife, and bloodshed that the UK and US have caused by redrawing the borders of many of these nations, with a negligent, total disregard of what grouping ethnic populations with long histories of hostility and distrust - not in THEIR best interest, but those of Western, mostly British and American, big oil. How many Americans know that Kuwait WAS a provence of Iraq until it was carved off, and made an independent country mainly by Britain, and mainly to maximize profits and influence of British oil companies! Not to condone it's invasion, though it sheds light on why it occured.
Though I do not for one second mean to imply an excuse for the terrorism that these (pick an adjective) policies have contributed to, and certainly don't suggest to share their plight, as a Scot, I do have some what of an understanding of what it's like to live with the resentment of being constantly reminded every day that as an ethnicity, you're just not as good as those that occupy you, and you should be grateful they do. I'm encouraged by our movement towards total independence, I was proud when Scots protested going to war in Iraq because it was about big oil, I was proud when the Scottish Minister of defense declared in Parliment that England would never again tell Scotland to send it's children to a war it was against. I'm proud that Scotland has one of the best records for addressing global warming in the world.
But I'm fearful that Scotland's independence movement attaches so much importance on it's ownership of North Sea oil as a means to attain it's goals, and what it might lead to.

Your hyperlinks are making it hard to follow the article. Please re-do links? It makes Earth Justice look like the bad guy. They are the good guys! Right?

When American John D. Rockefeller took control of the oil industry in the late 1800s and created the monopoly that would become Standard Oil, the fossil fuels industry was on its way to becoming a devouring behemoth and a destroyer of even the illusion of democracy. When Standard was forced to divest, it spawned Mobil, Exxon, Chevron, Conoco, and Atlantic. During the 1900s, Big Oil expanded imperialistically into other parts of the world aided by American and British military (and the CIA and the NSA.) Big Oil controlled or manipulated the governments of oil-producing countries (Gee! I wonder why these countries don't care for the
U. S.?!) But, the end is in sight. It's estimated that by 2050 the world's oil reserves will be in the decline. However, you can bet every dollar (or pound) that you own: The industry will squeeze every dime it can out of all of us and destroy the world in the process and let the devil take the hindmost for the sake of profit. Arguments are made that the petrochemical industry has benefited all of us. I agree. My objection is that corporations never allowed public debate: We were never given the opportunity to assess all of the health, financial, ecological, and moral risks involed. The public has been misinformed and uniformed for over 100 years.

I live in the state of Utah. I will devote a substantial part of my time to the goal of making solar available to all the people of Utah. I will oppose the interests of Rocky Mountain Power (based in Denver) in Utah.

One last note. One writer quoted the following: The best way of predicting the future is by creating it (or, words to that affect.) That's from the American television program, "The X Files," Season Three, when FBI Agent Dana Scully is approached by a man who is a member of a group whose intention is to prevent the public from knowing of the existence of ETs. The character is portrayed by the British actor, John Neville.

Ah...ain't it wonderful when businesses use the government to make sure they don't become irrelevant. I believe Mussolini called the collusion of government and corporations...fascism. When big companies use governments to block consumer options, free choices and FORCE people to buy what they're selling...is that the oh so great "FREE MARKET" at work?

The corporate and GOP crowd LOVE to whine endlessly about the sacredness of the so called "FREE MARKET" and how great it is at sorting everything out for everyone.

I guess Free Market means that corporations are free to buy all the politicians they want, in order to get any laws they want, so as to set themselves up with a nice fat UNFAIR ADVANTAGE! I never want to hear any big business twit utter the words "free market" EVER again! It's a stinking pile of b.s. that means "I should be able to do anything and everything I want at any and all costs in the quest of a profit and an ever increasing one at that. Don't put ANY limits on what I can do to the people, the environment, or our system of government, I'm trying to make a profit damn it."

I think you're right on, but don't kid yourself, the Demos are just as corrupt and for the 'free mkt' where corps are free to buy all the politicians as the GOP. And by the way, with freedom of anything, should come responsiblity. The corps have all chucked the responsiblity part and in so doing, it is no longer free, us, the market, the so-called democracy we live with, all of it. People do not understand that without the element of responsibility for what we do to the planet, others, etc., there is no freedom for anyone.

This is exactly why capitalism does not work.

Answer: it's a person's home. Go ahead and put up solar panels anyway.
It does not matter what the utility says. They cannot arrest you, which means they cannot hold you hostage. It's YOUR property. YOU can do with it what you want.

And, if anyone physically tries to stop you, get a gun or a bomb and blow their brains out.
Make it legal to do so. There is NO difference between a terrorist versus a soldier. You are a soldier fighting for a just cause.

No diiference between a terrorist or a soldier? I beg to differ, the differences are huge between the two. Terorrists don't care whom they harm, and harming someone just for the sake of harming someone is their objective. Soldiers do what needs to be done to achieve their objectives with violence as is necessary but only with the amount of violence that is necessary. That is the difference.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of net-metering and feed-in-tariffs, particularly for solar because the increased supply from the PVs occurs exactly when demand increases (think: air conditioning).

That written, the Anon parent is wrong. Sure, they can't arrest you -- but they can kill power to your home. Unless you're ready to go off-grid 24/7/365, which requires batteries, which requires a much more expensive installation, you might not want to go this way. Trying to install net-metering without informing the utility is extremely dangerous -- a lineman working down the street could be electrocuted if the utility doesn't know there's another feed-in. Methinks that no homeowner wants to be responsible for that.

Furthermore, in most jurisdictions, a solar install requires a building permit. If you don't obtain one, build anyway, and the town cops on, they can legally require you to uninstall it. If you don't, they put a lien on hour home and, in the most extreme cases, will use the courts and the police to demolish a non-permitted installation and then again, put a lien on the property to pay for it.

So look, this is not the place for libertarianism or vigilantism. Contrary to knee-jerk reactions, you do *not* have the legal right to do whatever you want (or build whatever you want) on your property. Furthermore, you don't have the right to tie something into the electrical grid without explicit permission.

This is an opportunity for political action. Lobby your state reps and senators to require the utility to allow net-metering, have feed-in-tariffs, etc. Lobby the governor. Work to change your local zoning codes to encourage (or at least not discourage) solar PV and hot water heating systems. Work in local elections to get environmentally-minded legislators elected at the local and state level.

I think it is the electric companies charging the tariffs not the other way around. Sounds like you think the people are getting a tariff for contributing to the grid. Unfortunately, that's not what they are talking about.

Actually, this is exactly about homeowners getting paid for feeding electricity back into the grid. From the article:

"Under a feed-in-tariff policy, I can get paid handsomely by the local utility for feeding that excess electricity back into the grid for other consumers to use. This helps to defray the cost of my investment in rooftop solar panels."

As much as I like Earthjustice and support what they do, I'm afriad this article seems a bit overboard. I support the kind of feed-in tariffs this article describes, but a utility that opposes them is hardly "blocking the sun" or preventing people from putting up solar panels on their own, they just don't want to pay for the electricity being generated. This kind of exaggeration gives the environmental movement a bad name.

Political action is not sufficient to the task we have before us. Just look at the ridiculous display of idiot contradiction that our lawmaking process has become. The task is on the desks of We, the People. Doting on your politicians and captains of industry is the quickest way to the gallows (In an environmental sense). If you are unhappy with dirty energy, install your own renewables. Passive technologies and insulation are simple to implement and go a long way. I've seen the future and it is DIY. These bureaucrats DO NOT have your best interests, or the Earth's in mind. It falls on our shoulders to do what is right, and if we do it, these people will be following us rather than us following them. They will find themselves in a situation where no one needs them, because everyone is taking care of themselves, and each other. You are all smart enough, figure it out and build it!

Gee you would think the HECO would be buying in on this. Our electric company in WA has already invested in cheaper energy alternatives, even getting rid of a few otdated dams. We only get a few weeks of sunshine, more wind though.

I've find the humor injected into the supercilious attitudes of those defending and promoting anthropogenic global warming to be a welcome relief, especially for those reasonably informed and honest skeptics like myself who are so putupon by the true believers who have converted our rather tenuous science of Climatology into politics. I highly recommend the South Park take on this for a humorous respite.

I cannot believe that you are a big enough moron to doubt global warming exsists. It is here and whether or not it is caused by man or it is cyclical we had better stand up and figure out what we can do about it and implement the new technologies. If nothing elose we do know that pollution exsists and causes disese and suffering. Clean energy would most definately help us in that area.

human beings have been negatively impacting the environment of planet earth since the beginning of the industrial revolution. 200 years ago, people noticed the dead creatures in water and earth that have recieved the effluence of industry. unfortunately these days there is so little wildlife left that the proof of the poisoning of the earth is left to the scientific community and people who remember their youth and how many more wild creatures there were only 40 years ago.

climate change is an extension of this 200 year process of poisioning our air and water and earth. it is real. human beings are like unto a plague upon the earth as we use up all the clean water, poison all the air, kill off millions of species around the world, and in the process produce climate change. we have so drastically changed the natural world we can barely find places on the planet that have not been invaded and/or polluted by humans and their various forms of waste.

mr sceptic, i suggest you become more than reasonably informed and become truly scientifically informed about the reality of human behavior.

It may sound harsh what you are saying. But it is all true. People need to be educated about what we are doing. Don't let people's neg reactions stop you from getting the word out. I think the Native Americans were a good group to emulate. They had a symbiotic relationship with the earth. We others seem only to use and abuse it.

If you think that human beings are such a bad thing for the planet, why don't you leave?

Dem are some big werds (sic) you are usin. The article you are commenting on has little to do with global warming, and has everything to do with energy future and the greed standing in the way of progress. I am sure you know what finite resource means. That would be the non renewable kind. I do not claim to possess superior intellect, but even i know that the black stuff coming out of the ground will not last forever.

The problem as I see it, is that the energy companies have become both horizontally as well as vertically integrated, giving them an enormous amount of power, that has gone unchallenged since Jimmy Carter! Yes, Jimmy Carter was the last President we had that knew anything about energy policy...we didn't (as a country) like what he had to say, what do you mean turn down the heat, put on a sweater?
In rode Ronald Reagan, he told us we didn't have oil because of Carter so use....use...use..like there is no tomorrow. The birth of "greed" in America. Remember according to Reagan, greed is good, the politicians have run on that premise essentially since then.
Unfortunately from what I've seen in Hawaii is that local government really does not want input from "outsiders", and will spend millions of dollars, your tax dollars to "study" something to death or boredom, rather than change. Governor Lingle just couldn't understand why the innovators at OTEC could not just move away from the area after their business were started, afterall it's not like they needed to be there or anything...it always seems to get down to Kching! Maybe it's time for the baby boomers to remember their ideals...they are no longer ideals. Mr. Burns IS real!

Greed goes back a little farther than Reagan! Try Caine and Able. What 4000+ years. And that is just recorded behavior. I guess I labor under a false impression that the human race was becoming more civilized. Corporation dominance is just another form of barbarism as far as I am concerned. So we are going backwards. Sad for us and the planet.

This is ridiculous! I've had my fill of shows like "The Simpsons", "Family Guy" and "South Park", that use current issues and problems to create their own brand of twisted "humor". Frankly, they are going way too far! So are Hawaiian entities that demand restitution when someone tries to save money, and the environment, buy choosing to use solar energy! We should all write letters of protest and send them to Hawaiian authorities. We also need to create petitions, and start campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.

Excellent article!! Just to let you know that we in Hawaii have been experimenting with solar. I am a solar researcher, consultant and author who has realized that we need to speed up this transition for the sake of the eco-system and future generations. That is why I have set myself the mission of persuading 10 million households to install solar in the next decade. I have written the book that has the necessary factual, practical information that shows how to get affordable, durable, maintainable, user-friendly solar energy systems. I have been living with solar for the past 28 years, and have proven that it is practical, affordable and easy to use. Now my legacy work is to pass this information along to as many others as possible to make sure we get this movement accelerating! At the companion web site, http://www.lightontheearth.org/ , I have assembled the best information I can find and that together with the book that I wrote, "Light on the Earth: The Solar Option", can smooth the way to people wanting to experience the deep satisfaction that living with solar energy can bring. And by the way, there is no need to have a lesser standard of living. I run all my appliances, including refrigeration, washer/dryer, computers, big screen TVs, power tools, etc from solar energy. Please feel free to go to http://www.lightontheearth.org/ and see what you can learn. If you want greater detail, get the book and start on your way to a clean, green energy conscience. I have and I love it.

I applaud your goal and agree. But what do you do in situations like the LA DWP turning off your solar pretty regularly to do work on the line? Mine has been off pretty much for weeks, ever since we have had a lot of sun here in Southern California. Is your system self-sufficient? Do you use batteries and won't that be bad for the environment?

I live in NE and there is plenty of wind and sunshine here too. But, the powers that be and the almighty dollar don't allow any of that free enery to be harnessed cheaply enough for the everyday joe to afford it. If the utility companies would do it themselves without the governments help, maybe that would get things done.

Write to your members of Congress that things need to change. Do not encourage them tying in provisions meant to take them an exception in enforcing the law. If they do not let the other party say a word, ask them how THEY would like to be obstructed in matters that are near and dear to them. Also offer ideas. Do not cling to misguided notions that the tried and true way is the best, that is nothing more than an admission of limited intelligence. Someone told me in Thermo class that 'the simpler it is the more efficient'. Bull!! If that were the case, our best bet (in these terms) would be to never get out of the jungle, never fashion tools.
I do caution, however, that circuitous Rube Goldberg schemes ARE inefficient; you only waste time and effort in building in intermediate (avoidable) discrete steps.

GREED! That's all this is saying about HECO - its a greedy company and not very smart. All the solar energy flowing over the islands, and the utility is trying to keep solar use out. This effort is powered by GREED! When they could actually cash in on the idea, they are wasting valuable resources.

I say, lets take them on, and help the people of Hawaii and ourselves from relying on Fossil fuels, that are most likely responsible for all the earthquakes and volcanoes blowing. Lets save the Earth!! Where's the petition, I'll sign it!

"Although we certainly need to cut fossil fuel use by promoting solar and other renewable sources of energy, it isn't yet clear which policies are best ....... "

Absolutely agree. But there are some very misguided views out there, born out of ideology and self-interest. On both sides of the equation. As a European who lived through the period when utilities were state-owned and affordable and since privatization (thanks to the inglorious EU), have become unaffordable for many at the lower end of the income scale, it would seem that the only beneficiaries of imposing a carbon tax are the major corporations, who trade it and enrich themselves even more.

However, it is ironic that (HECO and Hawaii aside) the obsession with a 100% "certainty" of global warming allegedly caused by Man's activities and which has led its adherents into trying to find ways to combat it by 1] taxing the population more and 2] finding ways to reduce the "warming" , has now come up with the "brilliant" notion of blocking the sun!! One mad idea (which is incredibly being given consideration) is to inject sulphur dioxide into the troposphere (simulating a huge volcanic explosion) and the latest is constructing a shield of mirrors in outer space to deflect solar rays.

It is hard to believe whether these lunatics were let out of the asylum deliberately ....... one wonders if they have thought of the consequences of producing a "nuclear winter" type scenario. In any case, one thing is clear - if man wants to continue to sow and reap and EAT, he is totally dependent on the Sun and its warming of the Earth.

In our hemisphere the answer as to how well the initiative of conversion to solar panels works already exists. There is a Caribbean island known by the name of Barbados on which every structure, residential and commercial, already has solar panels installed and in use. Barbados is a British protectorate. Barbados is where Tiger Woods held that huge wedding of his and the island boasts one of, if not the finest, golf courses on the planet. It was determined some years ago, apparently, that the island could not and would not sustain oil consumption on the levels that other islands do. Hawaii, Haiti and the U.S. need look no further than that little island. Officials should be visiting there and evaluating Barbados success in converting to solar panels on such an all encompassing scale and what the benefits and liabilities have been. As I stated Barbados has had this in place for a number of years now and there will be recorded results of sustained solar panel usage available for analysis.

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." [-- source unknown]
If we want a future in which we blow the tops off of mountains; tear out fossil carbon (coal), burn that in boilers to spin generators; spew mercury, lead, cadmium and billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; slowly acidify our oceans (decimating hundreds of fish species); trap more heat in the lower atmosphere -- melting away fresh water stored in glaciers and promoting the spreading of deserts... all we have to do is carry on with the status quo -- all the while feeding billions of dollars into the pockets of utilities for whom the only compelling metric is the Quarterly Profit Statement.
If, on the other hand, you and I want our electricity to come from environmentally benign, completely renewable, indefinitely sustainable (as long as the sun shines, the winds blow and the tides ebb and flow), then you and I must tell our elected representatives -- local, state and federal -- how we want our tax dollars to be spent. You and I must put solar-thermal water heating panels on our roofs. You and I must pay a premium for "green power" through any subscription program available through our electrical utility. You and I must install geothermal HVAC systems in our homes, and install PV panels or wind turbines. You and I must tell our real estate agents that unless a prospective home has proper solar orientation, is well insulate, and has high efficiency window glazings appropriate to our region... we are not interested in seeing any other properties.
You and I must do these things -- within the constraints of our financial *ability* (not our financial comfort) -- because we believe they are important and meaningful steps in the right direction. You and I must be willing to be living examples for our neighbors and fellow citizens... whether or not any governmental agency subsidizes our actions.
I offer the rising acceptance and adoption of hybrid, and high-mpg diesel, automobiles as an example of how "fringe do-gooders" become the vanguard of the mainstream. We do not need to wait... and we cannot wait... for "government" to lead the way, because government (at all levels) will always be beholden to those with the most money in the game. That is the unenviable truth of the human condition.
"We must become the change we seek" -- M. Gandhi.
Respectfully submitted...

March 18, 2010

The new phrase which is being talked about in the U.S. House of Representatives these days is Solar Radiation Management. These atmospheric geoengineering experiments, which are intended to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, are under serious consideration, and some scientists already receiving huge sums of money from Bill Gates for implementation since 2007.

The U.S. House of Represenatatives held their first geoenigineering hearing on November 5, 2000, and their second one was held on February 4, 2010. The UK and U.S. will be holding talks on geoengineering early this year as well. The congressional hearings are online as well as the testimony documents.

The utility companies already know that plans to reduce the amount of direct sunliglht reaching the Earth are coming in the near future unless the public objects. Thus, I am not surprised that they would discourage the use of solar panels. They don't want to lose profits but also don't want their funding reduced to pay for home solar panels.

As part of the AAAS yearly conference geoengineering was one of their topics in San Diego, CA in January. There is another geoengineering conference event in Monterery, CA at Asilomar, March 22-26, 2010, to discuss which schemes should be implemented.

Some scientists, with funding by Bill Gates, and in association with NASA (are ready to being experimentally deployed), are using the meeting in March to determine which ones will be funded and used in the future without public consent or oversight. Thus, funding and the promotion of solar power use in the U.S. is not a top priority due to these serious plans.

The above information is all public record and has been compiled for your information on the website: http://agriculturedefensecoalition.org/ All information regarding these meetings, graphs, power point presentations, testimony, newspaper articles, and other information may be found on this site with regard to geoengineering projects involving our oceans (ocean iron fertilization), the types of particles and chemicals proposed for usage, like aluminum oxide (Navy/NASA CARE experiment which was implemented on September 19, 2009), sulfur, carbon black, salt, and other particles and chemicals - anything to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth.

These programs will change our climate by reducing the amount of direct sunlight reaching the Earth, have the potential to threaten solar panel power production, the chemicals will eventually pollute our air, water supplies and soils when they return to Earth, and many cause tree declines due to acid rains. This is all being proposed or implemented as part of atmospheric physics experiments designed to reduce global warming. However, all the scientists admit this is not a solution but a "temporary fix" with unknown consequences.

Instead of these scientists using the expertise and funding to reduce all pollutants at their source and to invent more reliable, safe, and sustainable ways to produce energy, they are working hard to deploy more of these questionable experiments without Congressional oversight, public knowledge or consent.

I am concerned due to the fact that all plants, trees, crop production, and weather are all dependent on direct sunlight reaching the Earth. Without direct sunlight photosynthesis will be reduced with the potential for lowering crop production, reducing tree and plant health, lowering the amount of Vitamin D (with associated health consequences-see increases in Rickets CDC), each of us receives from the sun. It should be noted that climate and weather are influenced by sunlight as well as the health of our oceans. Molds, Mildews, viruses, and flu epidemics will be increased as loss direct sunlight from these programs increases their impacts.

It is time to consider the implication of implementing experimental geoengineer schemes in the near future. Lowering pollution and increasing our use of alternative energy is the goal...not questionable and temporary quick fixes with questionable consequences and no public oversight.

Respectfully,

Rosalind Peterson
Agriculture Defense Coalition

I too live in Colorado. Over a decade ago we installed a sizeable solar heating system on the ground (obviously no $$ incentives!). I was general contractor for the house (2000 ft sq) in 1993 and had located the house for eventual solar power. A year ago I added a solar panel system that produces four times more than what the house needs with the excess going into the grid via grid-tie. In neither case were "incentives" a factor though after purchasing all my PV equipment, by chance I did get some incentive dollars for that installation. Solar phase III is designed; just waiting on technology. Utilities generally, if not always, charge a service fee for use of their system, but this is quite inexpensive in our case relative to using batteries - still a primitive technology. With grid-tie the house uses energy off the PV during the day only using the utility at night. Concurrent with the installations I got an energy audit on the post and beam house, installed all CFs, got a SunFrost ac refrigerator, and used a lot of caulk. Total cost excluding the incentive dollars comes to about what one would pay for a new Chevy Suburban. So it is a question largely of personal priorities. Then in 2004 I purchased the most efficient vehicle made (Honda Insight). Of course I can not take much comfort in these "late life" conversions since my generation's (college in 1960's) only significant contribution to the planet was doing our best to destroy it. And we were quite successful.

It seems to me the voters in Hawaii, and in all of the US, might spend some time becoming educated on what is going on around them and not take so much pride in ignorance. In an already over-populated planet, matters are only going to get worse. Cheers.

For over a year, I have been trying to coalesce a voice of UNITY among us for the express purpose to finally reckon the archaic manners of human acting for profit and self gain. The theme has been with us throughout the entire concourse of all human history and "justified" by claiming special alliance with "God"....ciminally violating the DOMAIN OF PUBLIC TRUSTS. Certainly, the "free rights" camp is loud and squakky, shakin' their fisticuffs and parading all around while standing boastfully against the proprietary responsibility we ALL share to uphold those things that are COMMON to us ALL. The too-old-now broken manner of PROFITEERING in the Public Trusts Domain, constitutes a false and reckless endangerment seen as "normal business." Can we continue expanding? With World population NOW beyond all sustainable limits, is there such a thing as "smart growth"? For the COMMON and NOBLE Purpose to "keep" - "nurture" and "steward" all elements offered by our clearly limited EARTH...to protect the vital essence of human survival and survival of ALL life, WHEN will we arise in UNITY to finally say what needs to be said? All malady existent around us today arises from HOW we act. The "I", "ME" and "MINE" among us, must be reckoned for a new vision if we EVER hope to achieve TRUE SUSTAINABILITY.

I agree with your conclusions--the entire paradigm of 'self' needs to be changed in order for the species to survive. How this can be accomplished is another issue; especially with the 'exploitative-apparatus' being in the control of a seemingly intractable minority who's habit of control extends back 10k years into human history. Moreover, the atomizing effects of industrial capitalism have left most people with a dread at the thought of losing what little sense of self they have--the result of clinging to this mirage is evermore consumption, thinking this will fill the void created by alienation. And while this all sounds rather hopeless, I think that by 'consuming' only the essentials for life (food, clothing, shelter), and by developing community-based economies, such as organic/permaculture farming, people can establish social relationships based on mutual support and trust--while at the same time minimizing human impact on the supporting biome. And while this may sound 'pollyanna' one only needs to look at Cuba for a living example: yes, humans can have a reasonably healthy, satisfying existence based on community-agriculture and shared of resources (Cuba matches or exceeds the U.S. in quality of life markers--and does so while using 1/8 the energy per capita).

Colorado passed a law a number of years ago requiring the investor-owned utilities in our state to get 10% of their power from renewable sources. The utilities quickly learned it was cheaper to subsidize the installation of equipment on private homes and businesses. A new law in the works will raise the amount to 30%.

The first grid tie rules in Colorado were meter neutral; your meter would go backwards but the utility didn't have to pay you for excess production. That has also changed and you are now paid for excess production slightly less than you buy from the power company; it is their infrastructure.

Last year the republicans were refusing to extend the federal renewable energy credit unless the Democrats extended off-shore drilling. The credit allowed a 30% tax credit up to a maximum of $2,000.00. Off-shore drilling was extended but the lying right wing reneged. One of the "pork" items added to the bank bail-out bill extended the credit and effectively removed the limit on the tax credit.

Take charge of your state and the greedies.

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