Dear Secretary Zinke,
As Secretary of the Interior, you hold the solemn responsibility to steward America's public lands and waters on behalf of the American people who own them. Our public lands, including the national monuments you are now reviewing, represent a vital part of our nation's heritage—a legacy that belongs not just to us, but to all future generations of Americans. It is an important part of your job to safeguard this legacy by making careful and informed decisions about what federal lands can be used for development and what special or vulnerable areas should be preserved for the future.
That is why the arbitrary 120-day deadline for you to review whether to shrink or rescind dozens of national monuments is absurd. As you know, the process to establish a national monument often takes years, if not decades. It involves significant study of the area of the proposed monument—including its ecological, cultural, archeological, economic and recreation value—and robust consultation with local communities and their elected representatives at every level. Given the unique and complex histories of each monument, there is simply no way to meaningfully review dozens of individual monuments in such a short period.
You justify this review on the false premise that the American people have not yet been heard on the designation of these national monuments. But the communities near the national monuments under your review have already made their voices heard during public input and stakeholder engagement periods prior to designation. For example, notwithstanding the rhetoric of Utah Governor Gary Herbert and members of the Utah Congressional delegation, the designation of Bears Ears National Monument involved years of public input gathered by the Obama administration. This process included a series of public meetings in Southeastern Utah in 2016, including several sessions attended by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. It also included significant engagement with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which represents tribal nations for whom the land is sacred and contains archeological artifacts with immense cultural value. Additionally, in a recent poll, 68 percent of voters in seven Western states said they prioritize the protection of land, water and wildlife for recreation on public land, compared with 22 percent who prioritized increased production of fossil fuels. Your review must account for this extensive record of consultation as you purport to seek public input.
As you undertake this review, we urge you to consider the enormous economic benefits of protected public lands for nearby communities, including many rural areas. A recent study showed that areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands. In the 22 years since the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah was declared a national monument, jobs grew by 38 percent in two neighboring counties. The designation of 17 national monuments—including nine monuments covered under your review—led to significant increases in per capita income in regions adjacent to the newly-protected areas.
Rescinding or shrinking the national monuments under review also threatens the fast-growing outdoor recreation economy, which relies significantly on recreation access to protected public lands. These lands are not "locked up," as the Trump administration has said repeatedly declared—they are extremely productive. As you know, since you participated in the outdoor industry's announcement of a new economic study last week, the recreation economy drives $887 billion in consumer spending every year and supports more jobs (7.6 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Rescinding or shrinking the national monuments under review would significantly impact the strength of the outdoor recreation economy and limit our ability to create and sustain jobs.
Patagonia has been outfitting outdoors people and protecting public lands for more than 30 years. The debate over land and water conservation is always complex and sometimes divisive. But we have never witnessed the legacy of America's federal lands encountering greater risk than we see right now. As you visit these protected places and report back to the president, I urge you to follow in the tradition of President Teddy Roosevelt and conserve our shared public lands for future generations.
Every year, millions of people visit public lands in Utah to climb, hike, ski, hunt and a heck of a lot more. I've skied, climbed and fished the wild streams of wild Utah for years. The American people own these lands—and Utah reaps the rewards. Every year, outdoor recreation in Utah drives $12 billion in consumer spending and supports 122,000 jobs across the state. Sure, we use these lands for energy and grazing and other things too. But access to the outdoors is the reason why so many of my friends consider Utah the ultimate place to live.
OMG! Land Grab Congressman Now Wants #Trump to Abolish National Monuments https://t.co/ZdmAJo7HsN @CenterForBioDiv @sierraclub @Wilderness— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1480262373.0
It's also why the outdoor industry loves Utah. Every January and August, Patagonia and hundreds of other companies spend gobs of money to show our latest products at the Outdoor Retailer show. The whole thing is a cash cow for Salt Lake City. You'd think politicians in Utah would bend over backwards to make us feel welcome. But instead Gov. Gary Herbert and his buddies have spent years denigrating our public lands, the backbone of our business, and trying to sell them off to the highest bidder. He's created a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk.
The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies. And just a few days ago, the state announced plans to sue the federal government to reverse the recent protection of Bears Ears, a site containing thousands of years of Native American archeological treasures and craggy red rocks beloved by climbers from all over the world. Politicians in the state don't seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.
Federal Bill Seeks First Native American Land Grab in 100 Years via @EcoWatch https://t.co/IlxjJJ8SFJ— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@Dr. Adrienne Keene)1474648228.0
I say enough is enough. If Gov. Herbert doesn't need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Gov. Herbert should direct his attorney general to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah's economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business—and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands.
We love Utah, but Patagonia's choice to return for future shows will depend on the governor's actions. I'm sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.
Solar panels allow you to harness the sun's clean, renewable energy, potentially cutting your electric bills as well as your environmental footprint. But do solar panels work on cloudy days, or during seasons of less-than-optimal sun exposure? For homeowners who live outside of the Sun Belt, this is a critical question to consider before moving ahead with solar panel installation.
In this article, we'll go over how solar panels work on cloudy days, whether solar panels work at night, and how to ensure you always have accessible power — even when your panels aren't producing solar energy.
How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.
While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.
With clouds usually comes rain, and here's a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That's because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated.
One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy. If they're illuminated, it's likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.
Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.
But how do you store this energy for future use? There are a couple of options to consider:
You can store surplus energy in a solar battery.
When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.
Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:
- It's one more thing you need to install.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up a bit of space.
- You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.
You can use a net metering program.
Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company. Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.
Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- You may not always break even.
- In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
- Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.
Is Residential Solar Right for You?
Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn't directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren't producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?
It depends on the panels, but as a rule of thumb, you can expect your solar panels to work at 10 to 25% efficiency on cloudy days.
How do solar panels work when there is no sun?
If there is literally no sunlight (e.g., at night), then solar panels do not work. This is because the photovoltaic effect, which is the process through which panels convert sunlight into energy, requires there to be some light available to convert.
However, you can potentially use surplus solar power that you've stored in a battery. Also note that solar panels can work with indirect light, meaning they can function even when the sun is obscured by cloud coverage.
Do solar panels work on snowy days?
If there is cloud coverage and diminished sunlight, then solar panels will not work at their maximum efficiency level on snowy days. With that said, the snow itself is usually not a problem, particularly because a dusting of snow is easily whisked away by the wind.
Snow will only impede your solar panels if the snowfall is so extreme that the panels become completely buried, or if the weight of the snow compromises the integrity of your solar panel structures.
Will my solar panels generate electricity during cloudy, rainy or snowy days?
Cloudy days may limit your solar panel's efficiency, but you'll still be able to generate some electricity. Rainy days can actually help clean your panels, making them even more effective. And snowy days are only a problem if the snow is so extreme that the panels are totally submerged, without any part of them exposed to the sun.