This blog was written by Natasha Patel, communications intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Solar power is lighting up the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. On the rooftop of the Water and Environmental Services Facility, there is now a network of 429 fully functioning solar panels recently installed by South Bend, Indiana-based Inovateus Solar.
Unveiled on Tuesday, July 11, the solar system is expected to supply 25 percent of the water building’s electricity needs and generate as much as 135,000 kWh per year.
The system cost $500,000 and was half-funded by both a federal grant and by city water customers. With a payback period of eight years and an estimated lifetime of at least 30 years, there’s potential that other solar projects like it will be completed throughout the city.
In language less grandiose, though no less optimistic, Haris Alibasic described the $500,000 roof as “future energy hedging,” a business decision to protect against upward swings in the future price of power.
“What better way to invest in our infrastructure” than to invest in renewable energy that gives the city an economic return, said Alibasic, director of the city’s office of energy and sustainability. “This is free energy after the payback.”
As Michigan and other states have realized, investment in solar power is a smart decision. Not only do these investments supply jobs in the renewable energy sector, renewables emit little to no greenhouse gas emissions, providing clean air and improving public health throughout the nation.
By 2020, Grand Rapids hopes to have 100 percent of its energy needs supplied by renewable sources. With continued investment in solar power and other forms of renewable energy, the city is well on its way towards reaching this milestone.
If other cities become as ambitious as Grand Rapids regarding their clean energy futures, the U.S will remain competitive in the global clean energy market, providing much needed jobs in our struggling economy.
In Michigan alone, thousands of jobs could be created with even more renewable energy projects in the solar and wind sectors. Combined with the rest of the country, this number will only increase.
Creating good jobs manufacturing the components for and installing clean energy is a key part of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! campaign. To continue creating and saving good jobs in renewable energy, Congress should renew key tax credits for clean energy projects, such as the 1603 Treasury grant program, Advanced Energy Project Credit (48C), and the Production Tax Credit (PTC). These programs are tax credits for the installation and manufacturing of clean energy projects and for the production of wind projects throughout the U.S. and have been a crucial part in building our national clean energy market.
Make your voice heard in support of bringing renewable energy to your community today by writing a letter to the editor, writing a letter to your senator or member of Congress or telling your friends and neighbors about the benefits of these tax credits!
By renewing these credits, Congress will be taking a positive step forward in securing a bright future for the nation filled with good jobs that are good for our environment and cleaner energy.