Great Letter to the Editor today in the Miami Herald about the savings and simplicity of having a solar power system on one’s home that I wanted to share with everyone. In my home our experience is exactly the same as the Letter’s writer, Simon Rose. Our home has solar power, a battery storage system for night time and is connected to the local utility by net solar metering. Our bill runs between $7.00 and $15.00 per month total and whether the utility is operating or not, say after a Hurricane, we always have power. It’s amazing or, as Mr. Rose says, “charging is on the house”.
MERITS OF SOLAR
For years, I’ve been asked what it is like to be a solar homeowner: Do you have to change your habits? Do you have power at night? Do you have power after a storm? The answers are simple: No. Yes. Yes.
In July 2015, we installed a solar system on the roof of our Miami home. Through net-metering, our FPL bill is a constant $9 and change per month, so our investment should be paid off after about six years. Realtors calculate an average $15,000 premium for the sale of a solar house. We recently installed a battery storage system, so when a storm hits, we’ll be able to power our house on sunshine during a grid outage. All from silent, non-toxic power.
Rooftop solar installation prices have plummeted in the last decade and now, thanks to Solar United Neighbors co-ops, the savings are greater and homeowners receive free, unbiased support throughout the entire process.
For my money, the two best investments a homeowner can make are solar panels and an electric vehicle. When you go solar and buy an electric vehicle, charging is on the house. Really!
I think solar panels are beautiful, and I am not just talking about the fact that they can help us shift from fossil fuel energy to a clean sustainable solution. I think they are beautiful to look at too, but some leaders in the City of Coral Gables appear to think otherwise and on Tuesday will consider legislation to essentially prohibit them being placed on the street side of one’s house in the so called “City Beautiful”.
In fact, Coral Gables wants to place their view of what looks acceptable, thus aesthetics, ahead of allowing a property owner to benefit from solar, ahead of placing one’s solar panels in the best possible location to capture the sun if that means they can be seen from the street, and such a limitation is short sighted if you truly want to help lead the way in solving our climate change crisis.
Much of the proposed law begins with a fight that Gables resident Daniel Martinez and his family, who have been battling the City over where he’s allowed to place his panels on his roof. Not only did the City tell Mr. Martinez that his family could not place panels on the part of his roof facing the street but we’ve now learned that the City, while pretending to be supportive of solar and sustainability, has made decisions that led to at least 30 other homeowners to abandon their solar permit plans for seemingly similar subjective reasons.
I am incredibly disappointed in the City of Coral Gables’ Mayor and Commission for the roadblocks you have allowed residents to be subjected to, as well as for allowing the proposed limitation to be in your 2019 Legislative Priorities. You can read about what’s happening in the City of Coral Gables here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article223187560.html.
And, on this Tuesday the City will consider passing legislation that says they “support” Florida’s Solar Rights Act, but goes on to say that they oppose any law that would inhibit the Gables’ “ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels“. Should Coral Gables pass that law they will have shown their true colors and make clear that they are in favor of solar but only if they subjectively like the way it looks and have a say over where panels should be placed no matter what the sun and physics deem best.
Here is a summary of the city of Coral Gables’ ridiculous Legislative Priorities Memo and their Legislative Priorities Resolution highlighting their true view related to solar power (I have marked the key wording in red):
Support the rights afforded under the Florida Solar Rights Act (Section 163.04, Florida Statutes).
Oppose legislation that would limit the City’s ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels.
WHEREAS, The City of Coral Gables supports the rights afforded under the Florida Solar Rights Act (Section 163.04, Florida Statutes), but would oppose legislation that would limit the City’s ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels;
On Tuesday night the City of Coral Gables Commission gets a chance to redeem itself and decide whether it’s truly serious about sustainability and doing its part to solve our climate change crisis or, as resident Katherine Newman wrote in the January 6th, 2019 Miami Herald, just giving “lip service” to being “green”. Here’s what Ms. Newman wrote:
GABLES’ LIP SERVICE
The Dec. 26 article “Rooftop solar panel rules frustrate homeowner,” is exactly what most of us in Coral Gables expect: A long, expensive, frustrating process to get any permit (which is why many residents do work without permits).
Coral Gables gives being “green” a lot of lip service, but it does not put our money where its mouth is. Overdevelopment, with massive high rises reaching to the edge of our main streets, is one example. The traffic already is unbearable. What will it be like when the 60-story behemoth on U.S. 1 is finished? The CO2 emissions from all the cars will continue to increase.
In Gables by the Sea, we have been begging for shade trees for 25 years and have been largely ignored. The EPA says that urban “heat islands” contribute to climate change. On our two main streets, the temperature gets to 119 degrees on hot, sunny days because there is no shade. We pay enormous amounts of property taxes and have been unable to get desperately needed shade trees.
We are not fooled by the green talk. Coral Gables needs to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to pay the unfunded pension deficit. Enormous commercial buildings that contribute to traffic and take away green space will hurt our environment, but will create tax revenue. A homeowner, trying to do the right thing and install solar energy, is irrelevant to the city.
– Katherine Newman, Coral Gables
Saying you are dedicated to helping solve the biggest challenge that kids in my generation will face during our lifetimes often makes adults feel good, but actually putting your money, or your vote, where your mouth and heart is, is another thing all-together. Tuesday night the City can show all of South Florida, and the world, whether it’s either serious or not.
I am honored and pleased to share with you that The Sink or Swim Project’s work has been featured on two national programs produced by the Yale Climate Connections (YCC). YCC is a project of the Yale Center for Environmental Communication (YCEC) and is directed by Dr. Leiserowitz of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale University.
YCC produces daily broadcast radio and web-based reporting and commentary about climate change and like me, YCC sees the threat of our planet’s changing climate as one of the greatest challenges our society faces. YCC’s programs are aired nationwide on about 380 radio stations and are also available through iTunes and iHeartRadio.
Youth all over the world are rightfully deeply concerned about our warming planet and the impact that it has on our future. Yale University and the folks at YCC certainly understand this and with this in mind have published two radio stories about my work that I am very pleased to share with you.
I do hope you will give them a listen or read and let me know what you think. And most importantly, please share these shows with others and ask that they become engaged in their own communities. Together, but only together, we can and will change the world, of that I am certain.
Thanks to Dr. Leiserowitz, Jan O’Brien, Eileen Mignoni, and the entire team at Yale Climate Connections for thinking of me and for your incredible work for our planet and society.