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Save the world, save a buck

You might not know it from the headlines, but most of the discussion on the front lines of new energy production is not about global warming; or saving the planet.

It’s about saving a buck.

With thousands and thousands of new companies flooding world markets with new energy solutions for solar, wind, natural gas, and dozens of other alternatives to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, people are getting on with making it happen.

The energy discussion today is post-political. The science may or may not be settled, but thousands of people everyday are buying solar energy systems for their schools, their farms, their homes, their movie theaters, their offices, everywhere. That much is settled.

That means a lot less talking and a lot more doing.

Reducing global warming was always just one reason of many to turn away from imported fossil fuels in favor of renewables. If that is your reason, fine.

But for every global warmer, there are lots of people who think it is plain crazy to depend on people who hate us for oil.

And for every dollar we spend for tax credits to help create a new renewable energy industry, we are spending thousands in military spending to keep our supply lines open to oil from the Mideast.

Now that is what I call a subsidy.

The folks buying and selling these renewable energy systems are not debating the latest news from Copenhagen. They are too busy actually creating energy for that.

In Irvine, Calif., the school district is going 100 percent solar at all 21 of its schools. The school board does not have to spend a penny; its power bills will be slashed 10 to 20 percent in the first year; and over the life of the system the schools will save $17 million.

Even more exciting to the educators in Irvine is how they will use the solar panels to teach science, math, business and even art.

Many businesses and homeowners today are in effect their own private power companies. What they make, they use. What they don’t, they turn back their meters and send to the grid.

People talk about waiting for better batteries. Wait no longer: The grid is one huge battery.

Neither do they have to wait for the infrastructure and water that delay the big utility scale projects. You have a roof? A back yard? Even a pond? If so, congratulations: You can be in the energy business too. And you can do it right now.

There’s nothing political, abstract or even altruistic about all these solar deals: The price of buying and installing solar panels has gone down so much, and incentives are so lucrative, these projects are nothing more than good business deals.

Al Gore might be right. Al Gore might be wrong. But so many people are taking charge of their energy futures for reasons of their own, that it might not even matter anymore.



– Shelly Yarbrough

Perris, Calif.