A sunnier outlook for solar power



Things are looking up for the inevitable switch to wind and sun.  The oil companies know this  but will fight to the end to keep making money from their investments.  This is why new pipelines are  absolute folly because everyone knows that they just bury us longer and longer in antiquated, destructive and overly-costly energy sources.

Read this entire article in the Gainesville Sun, April 30, 2017.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


A sunnier outlook for solar power

NathanCrabbe In: A sunnier outlook for solar power | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Nathan Crabbe

Putting solar panels on your home isn’t just about doing the right thing for the environment anymore. Prices for solar installations have fallen in recent years, making it possible to get electricity from the panels at a lower cost than buying power from utilities.

Now area residents have a new option to help make solar an even better deal: the newly announced Alachua County Solar Cooperative. Community members joining the group can use their collective purchasing power in buying solar installations, saving an expected 20 percent off the cost.

Despite having some of the nation’s best potential for rooftop solar, Florida lags behind numerous states in actual solar installations. But solar is starting to have a sunnier outlook here, thanks in part to the outcome of two state constitutional amendments on the ballot last year.

Utilities tried to pull another fast one in state legislation implementing Amendment 4, seeking to include strict regulations on solar installers. Those provisions were pulled from the bill and shouldn’t be part of the measure eventually passed by the Legislature.

Now utilities seems to be deciding if they can’t beat solar, they might as well join in taking advantage of it. Florida Power & Light, which built the state’s first solar big plant, has announced plans for another eight, including one in Alachua County.

The utility projects that solar will make up 4 percent of its energy mix by 2023. Florida Solar Energy Center Director James Fenton said the reason is simple: Utilities are benefiting from similar savings in solar costs as homeowners.

“If the utilities are making a lot of money doing this, you the homeowner can make a lot of money doing this,” Fenton said last week during a Florida League of Women Voters conference call. A homeowner can get a 14 percent rate of return on the investment in a solar installation, he said.

The Florida League and the Washington, D.C.-based Community Power Network are partners in the effort to establish solar cooperatives across the state. The Alachua County co-op was the ninth one announced, with several more planned in the weeks ahead. The local co-op is holding its first “Solar Sunday” informational meeting today at 3 p.m. at the library headquarters in downtown Gainesville.

With Gainesville Regional Utilities having some of the state’s highest electric rates, solar makes even more sense for homeowners here. GRU had been a leader in incentivizing the use of solar energy before the biomass plant’s construction. Hopefully GRU’s possible purchase of the plant helps reduce rates and again puts renewable energy at the forefront here.

— This editorial was written by Gainesville Sun opinion editor Nathan Crabbe and represents the opinion of The Sun’s editorial board.

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