Thanks for showing up for class on such a nice day!
Let’s flip right over to Lesson 4. There’s no time to waste; senators will be back in Lansing after Labor Day, and we want to make sure y’all got tons of great stuff about clean energy to share with ‘em, if you ….ahem… haven’t already started doing that.
First, let’s review: Last week we studied up on how the fossil fuelish crowd and some of their utility friends are trying to trip up homegrown solar with SB 438.
This week we want to show you how great solar power can be in Michigan, if SB 438 is drastically improved—or that solar will do OK if senators just throw that bad bill out with the cat litter…
Senators’ Clean Energy Summer School Lesson No. 4:
Solar’s got game in Michigan, and Lansing can help!
First, a POP QUIZ!!
True or false: Michigan has so few solar panels because we’re not sunny enough, like Arizona or Florida.
Have you written down your answer? Now check this very cool map.
This is from our pals at the National Renewable Energy Lab. All that red down there in New Mexico and Texas? That means they’ve got great sun. See Michigan’s nice shade of green? It means our sun is weaker. So that’s why solar’s weak here, right?
Nope! Look at Germany, that purplish country. It gets less sun than Alaska, and way less than Michigan. But Germany is number two worldwide in solar!
So, it’s not about sunlight—it’s about what governments do. Germany did a lot; today they’ve got 40+ gigawatts of solar; on a sunny day, that’s the power from 50 or 60 large coal plants. Michigan has less than 50 megawatts of solar—just 10 percent of the power of one large coal plant.
Now let’s bust that myth about solar power being pricey. Here’s your study aid, from the solar-obsessives at CleanTechnica. Look at the first chart and you’ll see everything you need to know; check the others if you’re feelin’ wonky.
So how is Michigan doing, employment-wise, with its more-than-adequate sun and close-to-non-existent state policy support? Not as bad as you’d think (look at Page 5), but lousy compared to states with good solar policies (check page 1).
So, you up for dropping your state senator a line? Start here to find your senators and their address. Then read this terrific letter from Tim Johnson. It’s self-explanatory, and Tim says it’s okay to steal any words you might need. Heck, you can cheat all you want in this class, as long as you stick to just the facts, ma’am.
If you print some of this stuff out and send it along with a hard-copy letter, you are likely to get an ‘A’. Shucks…y’all know already: I’m an easy marker.
All right—you didn’t even hear the bell, did you? HEY! I’ll race you to the cafeteria…and see you next week!
Jim Dulzo is the Groundwork Center’s senior energy policy specialist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past Summer School Lessons: