The Conservative Case For Solar

Even under a Trump administration, experts believe the market for renewables will continue to grow.

By Will StoneDecember 29, 2016 9:38 am, , ,

From Inside Energy

Take a walk around Charlie Miller’s neighborhood and it quickly becomes a solar sales pitch.

“Mine’s had it for five and a half years. That one is brand new. Down the street there are about four more,” Miller points from one southwest style model home to the next, the rooftops lined with solar arrays.

This is only one block in Pebble Creek – a retirement community west of Phoenix with over 4,000 homes. Twenty-five percent of those homes have rooftop solar, and new ones are coming online almost as fast as the homes are being built, says Miller.

“You do one solar house. He plays golf with his friend. His friend is all upset he got a $450 bill, and he says ‘oh jeeze, mine is $30,’” Miller recounts. “It’s contagious.”

After decades in the paint business, Miller moved to Arizona as rooftop solar was taking off in the mid-2000s. Now he works for a local installer.

Plenty of homeowners and sunshine, plus high summer bills, all explain why solar makes so much sense in Pebble Creek – a solidly Republican area.

“When you go into these houses, you don’t need to talk anyone into solar, and we have as many conservatives in here or more. They’re ready for solar,” he said.

It’s an uncertain time for Republicans who have embraced clean energy. President-elect Donald Trump appears to have fossil fuels on his mind as he makes his cabinet picks: The former Governor of Texas at the Department of Energy, an ExxonMobil CEO running the State Department, and Oklahoma’s attorney general for the Environmental Protection Agency.

But do renewables fit into this conservative agenda?

Solar fans like Miller are adamant: “It’s a no brainer.”

Miller spends his time going to republican clubs, spreading the doctrine of solar for a local advocacy group called the Conservative Alliance for Solar Energy (CASE). It’s a doctrine shared by some prominent Republicans in the West, too, such as former California Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.

“Conservatives should be on top of this because of freedom of choice: choice in education; choice in healthcare; this is just another choice of where you get your energy from,” Goldwater said, who has seen the growth of renewables since his time in Congress during the 70s.

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