Greetings from Beijing

February 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Mr. Lynn Ashby
H Texas

Dear Lynn,

Greetings from Beijing.

Where plans to expand solar power in the United States look a lot different from
my seat in a cafe near Tiananmen Square than from my office in Northern California
— where I am the CEO of one of America’s larger solar power companies.

Many of the measures — and half measures — that we read about every day in
American papers are things the Germans and Chinese and Spanish and French decided
to do 10 years ago.

So now we are playing catch-up — but still not taking the steps our foreign
competitors have long since regarded as routine.

Germany, for example: Hardly a sunny hot spot — but it has more solar installations
than any country in the world. 200 times more than England.

That is because German citizens gets 75 cents per kilowatt hour for the solar
power they sell back to the grid. Spain is similar
Great Britain and France and Ontario recently raised their so-called ‘feed in
tariffs’ to comparable levels.

In California, we get less than 10 cents. And that is more than most places.

In the United States, we limit not just the price but also the amount of solar
energy an owner can sell back to the grid.

So we limit our results as well.

If we allowed the price to rise, and removed the limits on how much solar energy
a farmer or business owner or school or police station could generate, we would
see an explosion in demand for solar and other renewables.

That would reduce our dependence on foreign energy and stimulate domestic manufacturing
as well.

It’s a two-fer.

That is our best chance of creating solar panel manufacturing jobs in the United
States. But it is already very late in the game. Half measures won’t work anymore.

If this sounds like a story, I’d be happy to help any way I can.


Tom Rooney
President and CEO
SPG Solar
Novato, California

p.s. I will return from China — where I am visiting solar panel manufacturing
companies in Beijing and Shanghai — this week.

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