Here at Protect Our Winters, we work hard to speak out against climate change, and we ask outdoor enthusiasts to turn their passion into purpose by becoming advocates for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels– there’s simply too much at risk if we don’t.
When we talk solutions, we talk a lot about transitioning to sources of renewable energy, leaving carbon-emitting fossil fuels behind and moving to sources of clean energy, such as wind and solar.
But what does this really mean?
It’s simple, really. In our modern world, we use energy in nearly every part of our lives. The car you drove to work this morning, the ski lift you hop on to ride fresh lines on a pow day, the phone in your hands that keeps you connected—these are all powered by something. Even when we disconnect and get out into the outdoors, many of the materials used to make our outdoor gear was created using a ton of energy. The reality is, it’s very difficult to live in the United States and not have some sort of carbon footprint. That’s why POW advocates for large-scale policy change; we need to move to clean sources of energy.
Traditional sources of energy come from fossil fuels. When coal, oil, and gas burn, the combustion generates electricity and power. But, modern conveniences and advances in technology come with a price. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and the more CO2 that enters our atmosphere, the warmer our climate gets. To learn more about the science behind solar, watch this short video.
Because of that warming, winters are shorter, snowpacks are diminishing, sea levels are rising, weather patterns are changing, and natural disasters such as floods and wildfires are getting more severe with each passing year.
But the good news is that we don’t have to sacrifice our modern conveniences and way of life in order to save the planet and protect our winters. We just have to change how we generate that energy.
That’s why energy sources like wind and solar are so important. They are called ‘renewables’ because they are infinite. When you drill a well to extract oil, eventually that well will run dry. When you capture the power of the sun, however, your energy source will just continue to shine undepleted. Even better, it doesn’t release carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when the energy is used.
Solar energy is the future, and it’s high time we transitioned away from fossil fuels and towards its limitless potential.
To do that, we need to implement solar policies and invest in a clean energy economy.
One of the great things about solar energy is that it works at both an individual and regional scale. Local governments can incentivize or encourage communities to upgrade to rooftop solar panels on their homes and businesses through rebates or other policies. An effective way to do this is using net-metering, which allows solar customers to sell the excess solar energy they produce on their homes back into the grid. If you produce excess power, why not send it back and sell it to your neighbor?
Another policy that POW advocates for is to increase renewable portfolio standards (RPS). These standards determine how much of a region’s energy supply must come from renewable resources. Do you know what your state’s goal is when it comes to renewable energy? You can find out here.
In addition decreasing the modern world’s reliance on carbon, thanks to its dropping costs, solar is becoming easier for the average American family to purchase and install. In 1975, the cost of a solar panel, per watt was $101.05. At the end of 2017, that cost had dropped to just $0.37 per watt. This rapidly growing market also has the potential to transform economies on local, state, and national levels by adding new jobs 12 times faster than other economic sectors.
Solar also saves people money (and who doesn’t love that)? It’s a cost effective source of energy, meaning that once you have solar panels installed, it’s not expensive to generate power and utility bills decrease substantially.
While many people are installing solar panels and committing to using renewable sources of energy in their homes, cities and towns across the country are also committing to becoming 100% renewable, too. POW has worked on these initiatives in mountain towns, and we also work with utilities and state public utilities commissions to increase the amount of renewable power available on the grid.
Solar energy is a growing sector, and often it simply makes market sense, but it still needs our help. Talk to your representatives, from town council members to congresspeople, about your concern for the climate and your support of renewable energy. Reach out to your local utility companies about rebates and incentives.
POW is currently working in Utah, Nevada, Maine, and Wyoming on solar policies. To learn more about renewable energy policy, as well as find out what options are available to you in your own state, visit POW’s policy page.