Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaders, Giffords work solar development strategy

Map of solar resources with best areas in red, including all of Arizona

TUCSON -- I was invited and participated today in an important strategy session for decision makers on how to boost the solar power industry across Arizona. US Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ8) led the meeting at UA, and I was there as a Tucson Planning Commissioner.

For years, my family and I have generated solar power at our southside home in LD29. I am very supportive of increased solar power development and use to help our economy, security and environment.

Congresswoman Giffords called the Arizona Solar Energy Development Conference primarily for governmental policy makers and key staff. Energy experts from across the US and other nations discussed ways to go solar. It was an impressive group dealing with a hot and critical issue.

There were very interesting discussions and questions on incentives, net metering, energy economics, and the pros and cons of rooftop solar in cities vs. giant solar power plants out in the desert. Ultimately, we likely need both, and proper siting of solar plants will be essential.

It's exciting and encouraging to be a part of so much talented leadership interest in solar power development. Yes, we can!

UPDATE, 7/9: New news on big solar projects planned for BLM public lands.


Anonymous said...

When you say, "we need both" that pretty much will pave ("pave" being literal here)the way for MASSIVE tracts of land being sacrificed for the climate crisis. The Mojave Desert is going to go first. They want 24,000 acres in Chuckwalla Valley. 300,000 acres in Nevada's Mojave. I think you probably know they want the whole desert to solve the climate crisis. When someone like you says "we need both", you will not stop the feeding frenzy on public lands. Scraping the desert will mean higher global temps. Carbon storing plants and soils will be gone. It will also have the parking lot effect. Any paved over areas in the desert are always hotter.

I think you need to address the green rampage on your blog. You simply can not be environmental and agree to scraping up thousands of acres of the Mojave so we can stop global warming. They also want the whole western Sonoran Desert. Let's go rooftop. Let's not support buying our power from some big energy company that hides behind the lable of "green" so we can purchase all the energy from them. I doubt do it your self solar costs will ever come down as long as we buy it from one centeral company. Or a few centeralized companies. I am only partlky solar because I don't have 45,000 dollars to spend on solar.

The enviros are going to need to show some guts and oppose big desert solar scraping. If they don't, it really won't matter what other activities will happen in the desert. There won't be any desert left but a few wilderness areas. Biodiversity does not stop at wilderness.

Scraping the desert will not make the price of gas go down nor will it stop people from driving. It will only make the climate hotter. Going solar is a good idea, but if we fall into the panic fueled by the public relations propaganda by big energy that we must do it NOW to save the Earth, we will have a lot less Earth to save. The democrats are falling right into this trap. They did it before. The Clintons sold off so much public land in the '90's to develop the desert areas. In return, they would give us a few acres here and there of Lake Tahoe. I'm certianly not defending the republicans, but you should be able to see where the demos are going with this. Don't be fooled by this. Big green energy means no undeveloped public land left in the desert. When I read things like this, I can only hope that cost will stop these big solar rampages and powerlines in our desert.

Daniel R. Patterson said...

The anonymous reader makes very good and important points.

As a rooftop solar power producer, I strongly favor rooftop solar in cities where the power is used.

There are also some open desert areas, especially old ag fields, that could accommodate solar without much habitat loss, and these should be considered. Proper siting is critical.

I do not favor new giant powerlines or bulldozing desert habitat for giant industrial solar plants.

I recently successfully pushed BLM to hold a Tucson hearing July 8 on their solar PEIS.

Jeneiene Schaffer said...

"Without much habitat loss" is a loose definition that is rife with opportunities to abuse open desert space. A much better option is to follow the infill approach of dense populations and its energy needs. We should use vacant lots, abandoned properties, unused parking spaces, etc. within cities to put small scale solar 'plants'.

Economically speaking, small scale neighborhood infill solar projects are better suited for local control, good candidates for grant start up money if operated as a nonprofit, and provide local solar businesses with local job growth.

I am entirely opposed to using any open desert space for energy fields--even 'abandoned ag fields. Much better options abound. Let those ag fields rest and heal back to natural environments. Neighborhood infill and individual rooftops is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, both of you. I have recently been to Tucson to visit friends. Like most southwest cities, there were very few solar panels on the rooftops. If we have a system where city governments actually provide these resources to the people, we could save a lot of energy, carbon emissions and most importantly, open space. They could store all of the extra energy from the rooftops systems. There are so many ways to do this while preserving the desert. I think Obama, at least, may listen to this. It is up to us to tell him...

Anonymous said...

In all the hubbub about climate change, something important is being ignored. Switching to renewable energy is an enormous opportunity for local investment. It would be a shame to just re-create the existing energy ownership structures when we don't have to.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has put out an interesting report about federal tax incentives and how they discriminate against small solar projects and favor large central solar projects. This means the scales are tipped in favor of outside big corporate ownership instead of local mom & pop ownership.

In the midwest, studies have shown that locally owned wind energy facilities produce more financial benefits for the communities they're located in than outsider owned facilities. The range is 3-5 times as much financial benefit.

Here's a link to one of the studies.

Would the same apply to locally owned solar energy? Maybe. The studies need to be done.