23 Monday Apr 2012
Almost 9 months has passed since Solyndra failed, and yet the story of one company’s failure amidst many successes, persists, to advance the idea that solar is simply not viable.
Solar power is being generated from Washington State to New Jersey, yet in one corner of the U.S., namely the southeast, where there is abundant sunshine, one sees a surprising lack of progress towards anything remotely resembling a vision for the future. Some of this is deliberate on the part of utilities that do not want to embrace change. A long-standing, legislatively-granted monopoly on the electric grid provides utilities with guaranteed profits, low-risk, and political “cover” to dissuade any ingenuity towards clean, renewable power. Energy advocates will point to “evil monopolies” as the 900lb gorilla that continues to forestall advancement, yet the clean energy industry itself has largely failed to provide the tactical strength to communicate the issues, in economic terms, to impacted business and industry partners. Misinformation about what solar does, for whom and at what cost, is everywhere, precisely because utilities are highly effective at getting their talking points out to the stakeholders.
A recent report by Georgia Tech and Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions explores 6 common myths about energy in the south that have been put forward by fossil fuel supporters and the utility industry. Countering the myths is the first step in bringing stability to the volatile and largely coal and oil driven energy markets. Their research should serve as a basis from which the renewable energy industry derives their future talking points. A wise man once said, “All you have to do it tell the truth” . Organizations like Southern States Energy Board, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, ACORE, Energy Future Coalition and many others, are on the road to communicating these points to policymakers and industry leaders. Indeed, the truth needs a megaphone and the Environment needs a business manager.