Green Power Going Mainstream

With the news full of stories about the dangers and impending doom of global warming, it's good to see American politicians taking notice. As usual, California is out in front with a new law that could make green mainstream.

What kind of green am I talking about? According to a recent article on Realty Times, California's Million Solar Roofs Bill (SB 1), which will come into effect on January 1, 2007, takes Americans where they've never really gone before -- into a future that could see you getting money from your local electrical utility, as opposed to paying them!

The law is good for builders too. Builders have never had anything against alternative sources of power; the problem was that the buying populace wouldn't pay for them. This law gives them an incentive to consider new kinds of developments that includes solar power.

California has good reason to be out in front of this issue. With a history of instability in their power infrastructure, including rolling blackouts, getting power from the sun is a particularly smart idea. After all, California is the state of sun and sand; with such a high number of cloud-free days in most of California, the potential for solar power is almost without limit.

Why would consumers buy into this? After all, solar panels on their roofs are going to cost them money. Well, apparently consumers are ready for this because the value is there. As many as 8 out of 10 of us believe that house builders should offer solar panels as an option for a buyer. About 2/3 of us are willing to pay more, given that solar homes have a proven higher resale value. And then, there is that delightful situation of having either a low electricity bill, or even a negative bill if you are making more electricity than you are using! But it will take time to put the infrastructure into the electrical system to handle a credit to homeowners who are net electricity producers.

Of course, the more popular solar energy becomes, the more likely that the cost of solar panels and solar energy comes down. The more people who produce energy, the more likely that the electrical utilities have to start making changes for net producers. The more mainstream alternative energy sources become, the more of us who will live "off grid" (which is the buzzword for meeting all your own electricity needs.)

Don't kid yourself -- this idea has "legs". If one of the sponsoring partners is BP Solar (an arm of BP, the oil company) you can bet that corporate america is getting behind this.

Michael

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