State Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird: Solar is progressive

May 5, 2013 

Solar is progressive

Two letters to the editor (“Solar subsidies” “Need some numbers” April 29) challenged Aaron Nelson’s op-ed (“Renewable energy an economic boon” April 22) in support of the N.C. renewable energy standards, saying that solar power is subsidized, so is not a viable energy source. However, both ignore that conventional energy is much more heavily subsidized.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Institute for Energy Research show that in 2010 subsidies for oil and gas were $654 million, hydropower $215 million, coal $1.189 billion and nuclear $2.499 billion. By contrast, solar subsidies were $968 million and wind $3.986 billion.

While the per kilowatt hour cost for solar is higher based on direct comparison without taking into account subsidies, the cost per kWh for solar is rapidly decreasing. I agree that solar farms are not the best use of land, but other unused areas can produce solar power and hot water: roofs on homes, businesses and parking garages and canopies over parking areas at parks.

More than 350 million Chinese homes have solar power on their roofs. We have leaders in the state who have moved forward to diversify their energy source: SAS in Cary, Apple in Maiden, Google in Lenoir have invested in significant solar installations. Will we continue with 20th century polluting energy or move to 21st century clean energy? Do we have vision and bold courage, or are we stuck in the 20th century?

State Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird

Chapel Hill

The writer, a Democrat, represents N.C. District 23.

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