Bigger isn't always better
The Bureau of Land Management's Ray Brady says "there is no way a state like California is going to meet its goal of generating 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources without utility-scale projects (HCN, 2/7/2011)."
From my experience, this just isn't true, and I'm getting tired of seeing it become a mantra. Since 2001, I've generated about 46 percent of my electricity from rooftop solar panels. Soon the system will have paid for itself. If every residential unit in the state made this affordable investment -- when I had the system installed I was making under $30,000 a year -- plus warehouses, malls and big-box stores, why shouldn't we expect to generate 50 percent of our electricity without utility-scale projects? All we need are the right incentives and the political will to stand up to the utilities. Plus, the opportunities for utility-scale projects on disturbed lands are enormous.
By conserving electricity and generating solar power, my net electricity use has decreased by about 60 percent. Imagine if everyone in California did this! It isn't hard or expensive and doesn't require the development of pristine desert. However, it also doesn't make the utilities money.
Lee Vining, California