Mason County News
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Energy Plans
Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 • Posted October 5, 2011

Dear Editors,

An editorial in the Texas Co-op Magazine says Texas came close to electrical shutdown on two occasions this year.The first was in February when we had an abnormal cold spell. The second was during the record setting hot spell in August when all air conditioners were running 24/7. The article goes on to say that the drought has made the problem worse causing some plants to be hobbled by lack of water to cool their turbines.Current Texas energy plans call for two new nuclear plants and a coal-fired plant to be built in South Texas near Bay City. These plants cost billions, are bad for the environment, and take years to get on line. They will also require massive amounts of cooling water and that would most likely need to come from the Highland Lakes via the Colorado River. These proposed plants won’t solve Texas’s immediate energy shortage. Another year like this one and we could be without power when we need it most.The fastest way to shore up the Texas electrical grid is with home generated solar electricity. Texas could develop solar energy the same way Germany did when they passed the German Renewable Energy Act in 2000. U.S. electric suppliers could follow the German plan and offer to pay a premium over a specified period for homeowner generated solar electrical power that is routed into the power grid. Homeowners who install solar panels would be given low interest loans for the cost of installation and the premium payment they receive for the electricity they generate would offset most of that cost. The cost to the electric company for paying this premium could be passed on to all electricity customers equally. This would likely cost much less than the enormous costs of building the nuclear and coal plants which is always passed on to customers. German customers pay an average of $1.69 more per month to cover the premium paid for solar power. The real advantage to solar power is that it can be added to the grid as it is installed—in a matter of weeks or months. Solar power would not require water for cooling and would not harm the environment. If Germany could make a success of this system with an average of 4 hours a day of sunlight, think how much better it would work in Texas.The system could be expanded to include private solar energy producing companies in addition to homeowners. Germany’s energy act caused a boom in German solar industries. Texas’s economy could benefit from solar panel manufacturing and installation. The labor and employment would be spread all over the state instead of being concentrated in South Texas. The energy produced would also be spread all over the state instead of traveling by transmission lines for long distances. It would be the start of a very efficient system that when added to wind power in North Texas could eventually lead to total sustainable energy for the state.If you agree with this idea, talk to everyone you can about it. We can’t afford to wait years to have our power shortage addressed with dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power which use massive amounts of our precious water. Solar power is the clean efficient energy of the future and it should be utilized now.

Larry Payne

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