You may or may not have noticed, but a grassroots movement in community power is picking up speed around the country. What's community power, you may ask, and why does it matter?
The community power movement aims to decentralize electricity generation, which provides benefits to communities beyond local, clean, and more affordable energy -- though those benefits would be enough. Take the case of solar power. Solar is getting cheaper, and given the costs of coal and nuclear plants, it will at some point become cheaper than other options. But who will benefit? Organizations promoting community power want to ensure that the answer to that is the people who need the power, rather than big companies outside their communities. In addition, keeping power production local creates jobs locally, avoids destroying delicate habitats, and bypasses the need for inefficient transmission lines, which can take many years to put in place.
Community power also helps address the challenges many of us face in going solar. If you've read about my quest for solar at my condo complex, you'll have some insight into what this means for multi-family buildings. Condo dwellers aren't the only ones facing significant hurdles; renters are at the mercy of their landlords. And many single-family homeowners can't afford solar, even with rebates and incentives. In fact, fewer than 1% of U.S. homes currently have solar panels.
Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute http://www.solargardens.org
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC http://www.solarpanelhosting.com