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4 Reasons Solar Microgrids Are the Future of Energy
Solar energy is often heralded as a clean alternative to coal and oil and gas, a way to save the planet and still ensure everyone’s electrical needs are still met. The technology is still advancing and people are finding new ways to make use of it. One idea is for communities to create their own microgrids and here’s why.
Microgrids are a great way for communities to generate their own solar electricity. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Bills are lower
America is a pretty sunny place, with every state getting a decent amount of sunlight, even Alaska. That’s a lot of untapped potential, so it seems foolish for people to pay for power off the grid when they can get it for free from the sky.
Well, free might be a bit of a stretch, at least at first. There’s still the installation and maintenance costs to consider, so it will take a little while to pay that off, but it’s worth noting the quality of solar panels is increasing every year.
If a community were to come together they could make buying panels a more manageable initial investment. Not only are their combined resources larger, but they’ll most likely be able to strike a better deal with a solar panel company when they’ve covered 30 roofs rather than one or two.
Once everything is set-up and running, electricity can be provided through solar panels to the community. While it won’t be able to replace regular supplies in all and every case, it can help bring down energy bills significantly.
Money can be raised
As well as, or instead of using the power themselves, communities can sell energy back to the grid. This can help create a pool of money that can be shared in the community. Instead of heading out and rattling tins for community initiatives cash can be raised whenever the sun is out. Whether it’s for repairs for a playground to support a local in need, a microgrid can be a great way to build up some money with little effort.
Protection from outages
The main grid isn’t always reliable. It’s susceptible to disasters, attacks, energy shortages and plain old errors. These events can affect thousands, even millions, in an instance and depending on what happened, it can take a long time to rectify.
Microgrids offer some protection from this. If, rather than using or selling all the energy collected, a community stores it, they have a back-up during blackouts. This means when there could be no lights for miles around, a community could still make dinner and watch TV without a big fuss. This puts them in a great position to help nearby people as well.
Cohesion and communication
An important part of a good community is the communication and cohesion between its members. This can be done with a friendly chat on the way out the door or specially organized events. Another way is to make the microgrid an active communal endeavor. Communities can keep everyone updated on progress, use it to teach children about science and space, and get people involved in the running of the grid.
All of this gets people talking to each other, plus if the grid is being used to raise money for something, it gives everyone a common goal and interest to work for too. It’s a perfect and easy way to help people get along.
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AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.