In Sunday, Oct. 8, in the Gainesville Sun, Carole Fernandez has written an article supporting clean energy.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
The League of Women Voters of Alachua County has joined local efforts to help save our planet. Carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is a major source of what ails our planet. If we are to have any hope of preventing further damage, we must switch to clean, renewable sources of energy.
Most developed countries, plus many states and local governments in the United States as well as citizens’ organizations and businesses, were committed to clean energy even prior to the Paris climate agreement. The United States’ apparent rejection of that agreement has only intensified their resolve.
The Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative is motivating local communities to renounce reliance on fossil fuels by committing to clean energy. The initiative highlights both the health and economic benefits of clean energy and provides models for a successful transition. Last month the Sierra Club reported a milestone: 150 mayors from 33 states have committed “to power their communities with 100% clean, renewable energy.” Eighteen Florida mayors, including those of St. Petersburg, Delray Beach, Miami Beach and Orlando, are among the 150.
Local citizens, including members of the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the Women’s March and the League, met in August with Gainesville’s Mayor Lauren Poe to urge him to commit to the initiative, with the goal of 100 percent clean energy usage by 2050. A letter outlining the commitment’s advantages and requirements was presented to the mayor during the meeting. Mayor Poe understands the issues involved in such a commitment and knows that they are not trivial, but he has agreed to work with us on this initiative.
Abandoning reliance on fossil fuels and transitioning to clean energy will be challenging. It will require careful and thoughtful planning, as well as financial incentives or assistance in some circumstances. Fortunately, our location makes solar energy a good alternative to fossil fuels, and solar provides economic as well as environmental benefits. Switching to solar creates jobs and new business opportunities. Further, in the aftermath of storms and other disasters, solar power provides energy resilience by reducing reliance on the availability of fossil fuels.
The cost of installing solar has dropped tremendously in the last several years. Local cooperatives, such as the one the League organized in Alachua County, can offer even better pricing on a high-quality system through collective bargaining and multiple installations. Most homeowners and businesses can now afford to finance the installation of a solar system, and the cost savings, through lower monthly utility bills, will pay for that financing and increase the value of the residence or business property. The tax credits currently in effect make solar even more affordable. It’s a good time to switch to solar.
Susan Nugent of the Climate Reality Project in a recent Sun column called for an alliance to move toward renewable energy. In Alachua County, that alliance has begun. The time to act is now, and the League of Women Voters of Alachua County urges other community groups and organizations to join this local effort by contacting Nkwanda Jah, of the NAACP Environmental Justice Committee, at [email protected], or Roberta Gastmeyer, of the Sierra Club, at [email protected]. We also urge the mayors of all the cities in Alachua County to consider a commitment to the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative.
If our planet is to be saved, the challenges of converting to clean energy must be overcome. Citizens, organizations and local governments working in concert can meet these challenges.
Carole Fernandez is president of the League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville.