Switching on the sun to fight climate change

Another year, another global temperature record broken.

While many in the world anxiously await American action to combat climate change, voters and the media seem to have largely sacrificed the global crisis on the altar of political gridlock. It is accepted that nothing will be done by this Congress. Not by these legislators. But communities nationwide are taking it upon themselves to be the change they want to see in the world. That includes several Illinois communities leading the charge in educating business owners, homeowners and nonprofits about why now is a good time to go solar. They are taking the phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally” and putting it into action. In the process, they’re combatting climate change and fueling local job creation one roof at a time.

Across the country, communities are teaming up with local nonprofits, solar contractors and installers to increase solar energy generating systems in their neighborhoods. Solarize Portland utilized a rebate program called a “group buy” to pool the collective purchasing power of neighbors to complete 130 solar installations totaling 350 kw of capacity, enough electricity to fully power roughly 35 homes. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted 25 “Power Hours,” solar informational sessions that educated 800 Minnesota residents about how solar technology works, its benefits, the factors to consider when deciding whether to go solar, where to start, and the financial incentives that make it easier to adopt. That effort resulted in 150 site assessments and numerous new installations.

Unlike coal, gas and other fossil fuel energy sources, solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases once they’re installed. There are no moving parts, and they provide clean energy for more than 25 years. Not only do they help combat climate change, they make our air easier to breathe and help to combat asthma as well. Madison County has historically had poor air quality, with asthma and lung cancer rates consistently higher than state and national averages. Any source of electricity that doesn’t spit greenhouse gases and pollution into the air is a positive for the environment and human health.

There is truly a solar boom occurring in this country as equipment and installation prices plummet and the technology becomes more efficient at harvesting sun beams from outer space.

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