If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to forget your successes:
North Carolina solar companies owe much of their success to an obscure federal law passed in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil crisis, when shortages produced lines around the block at gas stations and tipped the U.S. economy into recession. At that time, Americans got about one-sixth of their electrical power from burning petroleum, much of it imported from the Middle East. In a bid for greater energy independence, lawmakers approved The Public Utility Regulatory Policy of 1978, known as PURPA.
Among other things, PURPA required utilities to buy renewable power from independent producers if it cost no more than electricity from the conventional power plants owned by the utility. The aim was to source more power from small renewable facilities, like the Person County Solar Park, easing demand for electricity from coal, gas and—in particular—petroleum-fired power plants.
I will say this again, and keep saying it if that’s what it takes: In the clean energy revolution, in the reducing our carbon footprint contest, in the cutting back on pollution effort, it’s all about the Megawatts. Yes, allowing for 3rd party leases on residential Solar is great, and it will make it a lot easier for folks to have them installed on their homes, but we’re talking 10-15 kilowatts per. An analogy might better get my point across. Say you have a really long wall, that needs to be painted on both sides. On one side, you’ve got one person using a paint roller, and on the other side, you’ve got fifty people dabbing with a fine artist’s paint brush. When the person with the roller gets tired, another steps up eagerly and starts rolling. On the other side, you’re constantly trying to replace each of those fifty people dabbing. I don’t need to tell you which side will be finished first, or that one of those sides may never be finished. It’s a bad analogy, but it’s been in my head for several weeks, and I had to get it out. Here’s more on the threat to PURPA: