Rally demands solar energy legislation

The Solar Uprising rally was a sight to see on the Capitol steps Thursday.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy hosted the rally to raise awareness on the importance of solar power.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said burning coal and gas for energy creates air pollution. He also gave brief facts about solar power.

“In one hour of every single day, the sun hits the earth with enough energy to supply all the energy we need for a full year,” Smith said. “We got this God-given resource, and it’s very powerful, but we’re just not using it effectively.”

Using solar energy has benefits in the realms of cost and cleanliness.

“Solar is free once you get solar panels set up, and it helps us with the air we breathe, global warming and climate change,” Smith said. “Solar energy is the cleanest form of energy.”

Solar panels work best in the summer because that’s when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun. The panels will continue to operate in the winter and on cloudy days.

Susan Glickman, Florida’s director of SACE, said the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is fighting for a policy to finance solar power.

“We need the ability to finance it,” Glickman said. “Just like you do when you buy a car or when you do the mortgage for your house … that’s one of the policy options that we are arguing for so people can lease solar equipment.”

According to Glickman, solar power saves its consumers money and is good for the environment.

“When you use solar power, as opposed to a fossil fuel-generated power source like coal or natural gas, you’re saving water and money,” Glickman said.

Glickman added that once a solar system is obtained and financed, it can be paid off in 10 years and give that person 20 years of free electricity.

“Solar is something you own,” Glickman said. “It adds to your property value, and also, when solar is on your roof, you don’t lose all of that energy that you do in the transmission line.”

Debbie Dooley, founder of Green Tea Coalition and co-founder of Atlanta’s Tea Party, said solar power is a bigger issue than what people think.

The Green Tea Coalition is a political organization that promotes the use of clean energy. Its purpose is to find common ground among members from across the political spectrum to create, educate and advocate for common-sense energy, economic and develop policies that protect families and diversify energy.

“Solar power is a national security issue,” Dooley said. “As of Wednesday, April 16 will be the one-year anniversary of a domestic terrorist attack on the power grid [area] in Silicon Valley.”

According to Dooley, the attack took down the grid, leaving consumers with no power and forcing them to be trapped for days without power.

“We (solar power supporters) saw how vulnerable our grid is to a terrorist attack,” Dooley said. “If you have a million rooftops with solar, it will not plunge our country into darkness.”  

Dooley also said that the number of people using solar panels has largely increased nationwide because it has become cheaper to purchase. It’s less costly, she said, which means more people would want to use it, and it also allows them some freedom to try and back away from electrical grids.

In Georgia, Dooley noted, 525 megawatts of solar was added in July, which created 13,000 jobs. These are jobs Floridians could be seeing if solar energy was promoted more.