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EDITORIAL: Bloomington commits to getting greener



10.24

Alex Crowley, the Bloomington director of economic and sustainable development, spoke to residents at the Oct. 14 farmers' market about the city’s continued initiative to expand its solar footprint by installing solar panel arrays at 30 city facilities, including City Hall and the Bloomington Police Department. 

The Editorial Board is excited to see the expanded use of solar power in Bloomington and hopes that city residents continue to support and invest in all forms of renewable energy. 

Senate Bill 309 has imposed a deadline on Mayor John Hamilton’s solar initiative. 

Passed on July 1, 2017, this bill allows energy companies to purchase unused electricity generated by homeowners, small business and schools at a lower rate than before through a process known as net metering. 

Currently, utility companies are required to pay the retail rate for the electricity, as opposed to wholesale prices, which are about a third of the retail rate. 

Bill 309 will allow utilities to purchase them at a rate only 25 percent higher than the wholesale from any solar panel system constructed after Dec. 31, 2017. 

This undercuts the average renewable energy user. 

It reduces the compensation that was originally designed to lessen the cost of setting up a renewable energy system to incentivize their use. 

Mayor Hamilton’s goal is to beat the 2018 deadline and let the city continue to benefit from the retail price. 

Currently, researchers estimate 39 percent of United States electricity could be generated through rooftop solar panels.

Entirely powering the nation through solar energy would require an estimated 1,948 square feet per person – about the area of a tennis court. This would amount to approximately 0.6 percent of the nation’s total land area. 

Combining rooftop arrays with larger land or sea systems could allow this to become a reality. 

Alternatively, the nation could pair solar power with supplemental forms of renewable energy, such as hydroelectric generators, biomass reactors, wind turbines or safe forms of nuclear power.

The cost of solar power has dropped significantly and is expected to continue to diminish by 60 percent over the next decade

Meanwhile, new technologies such as Michigan State University’s clear photovoltaic material, solar roadways or Elon Musk’s solar roof tiles create more ways for solar energy to be accessible to the average consumer and incorporated into everyday life. 

No matter what Scott Pruitt’s EPA does in its attempts to resurrect the coal industry, green power is the way of the future, and the Editorial Board commends Mayor Hamilton for recognizing this and ensuring that Bloomington will remain a beautiful and environmentally-friendly city to live in.

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