During the Carter Administration the first federal tax credits for alternative energy producing products were provided to homeowners more than 25 years ago. The incentives were directed towards increasing public awareness and acceptance of solar and wind powered devices for purposes of providing hot water, heated air, and/or supplemental electrical power for the home. This would then, in turn, help to reduce U.S. dependency on fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil, reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil, help reduce global warming affects, and improve the overall environment. This program was scrapped under the Regan Administration and the flow of foreign oil into this country has been on the rise ever since.
Today this, renewable energy, technology is in full force in other parts of the world as we Americans are historically slow in adapting to change. Many countries require all new residential construction to include some type of solar panels, for supplemental heating or power needs, so as you can see, we are far behind in embracing a direction that was mapped out for us 25 years ago. In theory this was an extremely admirable plan, and which is only now gaining some notice here at home once again.
The technology is there; in fact it has been vastly improved over the past two and one-half decades to where it is more efficient, less costly, and more aesthetically appealing, than ever before. Federal tax incentives are again being offered along with various other incentives from states and local utility providers. So where is the resistance coming from now? Why aren’t solar panels going up everywhere, is the concept of “free” heat too difficult to understand? One has to look no further than their friendly homeowners associations. Here in the Atlanta area, pull out your copy of your homeowners protective covenants and see what it has to say about solar panels mounted on the roofs of the homes. More often than not, this practice is specifically restricted by inclusion in the covenants or by-laws.
These are the same associations that will preach about green communities, recycling, community “green” work days, river keepers, and other conservationist measures but will prohibit solar and wind powered devices within the development. If we truly want to embrace “Sustainability” as a community and nation we will have to get over this narrow minded thinking. We cannot be hypocritical about these issues. It makes little sense to pump oil out of the ground in some unstable government, spend more money and energy transporting it half way around the world, and then spend more energy to refine it, when we could have used the sun directly for the same purpose, at a fraction of the cost.
We can reduce consumption of fossil fuels to a small percentage of what we would use, with techniques that are here right now.
Saving tomorrow begins today!