Photo: Justin Sullivan, Staff / Getty Images
As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston is lamentably lacking in distributed solar power generation.
New York City, which receives less sun than Houston, is ranked 7th with 117 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed. Houston is ranked 33rd with only 8 MW installed, as noted in the recently published “Shining Cities 2017.”
Yes, the city purchases renewable energy to power its facilities, but that energy is not generated locally. Simply purchasing green energy is not enough. Investing in locally generated power is the answer.
Why should we care? Why is city after city setting goals to be a high percentage renewable within 10, 15, 20 years? Why have mayors from many cities in almost all states signed on to the Mayors for Solar Energy letter?
As the letter states: “Accelerating the growth of solar will reduce pollution while revitalizing our communities by creating jobs and keeping energy dollars in our local economies. Expanding solar power helps residents and businesses benefit from lower energy costs while providing more local control of energy and improving our communities’ resilience.”
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Distributed generation makes economic and environmental sense. The more solar on rooftops, the cleaner our air here in Houston, the more resilient we are in the face of extreme weather and the more control we have over our energy costs. The real benefit from my perspective is we don’t have to wait for government to lead. Houstonians can take matters in our own hands, for the sun shines down equally on all.
Deciding to invest in solar for your home or business may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Solarize Houston (and beyond) is a nonprofit campaign under Houston Renewable Energy Group to help home and business owners in Houston and neighboring towns invest in solar while saving money through competitive selection of the installer and through collective purchasing of solar equipment. The more people deciding to solarize, the lower the cost for all.
Solarize Houston 2018 is holding a Solarize Workshop today, Saturday, May 12 from noon-1:30 pm at the Green Building Resource Center, and we encourage all to come by and find out how simple it is to invest in solar and how beneficial it can be on so many levels. The deadline to enroll in Solarize Houston 2018 is June 1.
I have lived and worked more than 20 years powered by the sun, and every investment made along the way has been rewarding. While driving in Houston traffic is never much fun, driving an electric car powered by the sun knowing that the air quality is not being harmed makes it bearable. Find out how the sun can help improve your quality of life by enrolling in Solarize Houston and help make Houston one of the shining stars.
Wolfe is owner of Wolfe Energy LLC and manager of Solarize Houston for Houston Renewable Energy Group.