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TOLEDO, OH – “Building a Solar Future”

April 19, 2010
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TOLEDO -– From laundromats and baseball stadiums, to homes and cars, solar energy is already enhancing energy security and reducing pollution in America.  A new Environment Ohio report outlines a vision for using the sun to meet 10 percent of the United States’ total energy needs by 2030.

“The sun provides more energy in an hour than all the coal mines and oil wells do in a year,” said Julian Boggs, Environment Ohio State Associate.  “This solar energy is limitless and pollution free.  America can and must figure out how to tap the heat and power of the sun.  Solar power is also increasingly cost competitive with older, dirtier sources of energy.”

Building a Solar Future: Repowering America’s Homes, Businesses and Industry with Solar Energy examines a wide variety of solar technologies and tools, including photovoltaic, concentrating solar power, solar water heaters, solar space heating, and passive solar design. The report also profiles various applications of solar energy currently in use, such as:

  • Walmart’s use of skylights in some of its big box stores has cut energy costs by 15 to 20 percent by reducing the need for electric lighting.
  • Laundry facilities, hotels, hospitals and even baseball’s Boston Red Sox have adopted solar water heating to reduce their consumption of natural gas for water heating.
  • Solar energy can be paired with advanced energy efficiency techniques to create zero net energy homes, which produce as much energy as they consume. Zero net energy homes have already been built in parts of the country, are possible in all climates, and often save money for consumers over time.
  • As more plug in electric cars and trucks enter the marketplace, solar energy will power our nation’s transportation system as well.

Solar energy is no stranger to Toledo, home of the University of Toledo’s Clean & Alternative Energy Incubator. The renowned photovoltaic (PV) research center lured Professor Michael Heben out of Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Center to the Rust Belt, which some hope will soon become a new Solar Belt.

It is not just in research that solar has found success in northwestern Ohio. Bill Decker, Sr. of Decker Homes, Inc has found success in the residential market. “Our customers are pleased with their lower utility costs and a new Ohio solar grant program combined with a 30% decrease in solar prices makes it very affordable with a payback of less than 10 years,” said Decker. “Our latest solar home built last year is averaging $55.00 total utility cost per month,” he added.

Environment Ohio called on local, state and federal governments to remove the barriers currently impeding the spread of solar energy.  Last year the state legislature made progress in this area by approving a new financing program that will allow customers to pay off solar improvements on their homes through property taxes. Legislation proposed in the statehouse this spring would include energy efficiency improvements in the program, called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), to make even greater cost savings and pollution reduction available for everyday homeowners.

Congress has an enormous opportunity to bring us closer to a solar future by passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, which would further incentivize the development and production of clean, renewable sources of energy like solar.

“Americans today need barrels of oil from a desert half a world away, in the most unsettled and dangerous region of the earth, just to power a trip to the grocery store in Toledo, Ohio,” said Boggs, “How much easier and more secure would it be to harness the heat and light that strikes our rooftops every day?”

Environment Ohio is a state-based, citizen-funded environmental organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space.

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