Solar Works for Me, You, and the Whole U.S.A
Running a business in this economy isn’t easy. That’s why I’m glad we’re in the solar industry as a solar thermal educator and sustainable Bed and Breakfast. Our energy source is clean, reliable and cost-effective. Most importantly, it is creating jobs that are helping pull our country out of recession and providing opportunities right here in our own community. These are jobs that pay well, provide good benefits and cannot be outsourced.
Our company, Artha Sustainable Living Center, grew last year despite a recession, and we weren’t alone. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry, recently released its 2009 Solar Industry Year in Review, and in the last year alone, the solar industry created 17,000 new American jobs and grew despite the recession. Industry revenues increased 36 percent in 2009 over the 2008 growth rates.
The solar electric sector grew by 37 percent, adding 481 megawatts of new capacity. This includes photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity and concentrating solar power (CSP) that concentrates the sun’s heat on receiver tubes that power a turbine creating electricity. The solar water heating sector, which uses the sun for hot water or space heating and cooling systems, grew by 10 percent.
SEIA expects 2010 to be even better with residential and commercial rooftop installations growing in demand, numerous utility-scale projects coming online and increasing political and public support for high-quality, clean energy alternatives. We also have 22 gigawatts of more utility-scale projects in the pipeline – enough to power 4.4 million households.
Politicians talk a lot about green jobs, but let me tell you what this really means. Solar jobs range from material suppliers, manufacturing, construction, plumbing and electrical work to engineering, sales, and many more professions including educators. At Artha we teach many professionals how to install solar thermal systems, these are people moving into a new profession or plumbers/HVAC professionals looking to expand their business.
I am proud that we’re doing our part to power America with clean, domestic energy. We want to do more, but government policies that favor the fossil fuel industry are holding us back.
The fossil fuel industry spends millions of dollars lobbying the government to protect their antiquated, dirty industry. Unfortunately, this has paid off. Fossil fuels receive more government assistance than does solar by a factor of 30 to 1. They have successfully fought to keep regulations in place that favor their polluting industry over more modern, cleaner, domestic renewable technologies like solar.
That is why I urge you to sign on to the “Solar Bill of Rights” www.SolarBillofRights.org. These eight rights will give the solar industry a level playing field with fossil fuels and allow the American people to decide which energy sources they think are best. We are confident solar will be one of the top choices. According to a poll conducted by Kelton Research, 92 percent of Americans think it’s important to develop and use solar energy.
The demand for solar is growing at a much faster rate and creating more jobs than fossil fuels. According to SEIA’s 2009 Year in Review, residential solar installations more than doubled last year as prices continued to decrease and more Americans saw how satisfied their neighbors are with reliable solar. It’s a good investment that pays dividends to homeowners by cutting their utility bills, raising their property value, and paying back the upfront cost in just a few years.
Imagine what we could do on a level playing field. By signing the Solar Bill of Rights, you will be telling our government that it is time we put more solar energy to work creating jobs and growing our economy.