November 8, 2013
Pee Dee W.A.L.L., which aims to protect water, air, land and lives, hosted a Solar Solutions Workshop at the Hampton B. Allen Library on Nov. 2.
“It was small but highly successful including many requests for information by those unable to attend on the busy pre-election weekend,” said Deb Arnason, a representative of Pee Dee W.A.L.L. “We watched several short videos explaining how solar energy works and how affordable solar is paying off where it is employed. That fit in with our theme, ‘Cleaner is Cheaper.’”
Arnason pointed out that 40 years ago, President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House when it first became apparent we would run out of fossil fuels some day. “Unfortunately,” she added, “President Reagan took them down and we have been going backward ever since, dependent on dirty energy.”
Meanwhile other countries like Germany and even China have taken what was once the United States’ lead. “In nations rapidly moving to wind, solar and geothermal energy,” Arnason said, “jobs are plentiful and the economy thrives for everyone, not just the rich.”
At last Saturday’s workshop, participants learned about affordable solar possibilities from one of the attendees, an engineer, who lived on a sailboat for over a year entirely powered by solar that he installed himself. The recent and rapid fall in solar prices was discussed as compared to the rising costs of centralized fossil and nuclear fuel plants charged to customers in their electric bills whether they benefit from the power or not.
“We spoke about hidden costs to our air and water quality, higher medical bills, watching our families struggle with asthma and cancers from pollutants as well as hazardous wastes from coal and fracked gas being allowed in dumps near our homes,” Arnason said.
“The high point of our discussion was the rapid expansion of affordable community solar projects where people with enough money put up local solar farms and allow those with little funds to buy in as they can afford,” she explained. “Everyone who wants to is able to participate and save some money on their power bills. This could be done through a local power company like our PeeDee Electric Membership Cooperative, by civic organizations or church congregations. In fact, we are looking forward to learning about N.C. cities, utilities, churches and other community groups who are doing just that at the upcoming solar panel of experts.”
Arnason invites anyone interested in affordable solar solutions to attend the Solar “Panel” of experts Nov. 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Road at Selwyn Avenue across from the University of Charlotte. For more information or to register for the panel, contact Monica Embrey, organizer, at 919-324-6508.
For more information on local solar solutions, contact www.peedeeWALL.org Deb Arnason, 704-851-3925 or Denise Lee, 704-826-6324.