Why it Matters

Jobs, the climate, your pocketbook – the benefits are many

Solarize will cut your electric bills. Maybe that’s all the convincing you need. But it can do more than that.

Within six months of starting their campaign, a Solarize project in Portland, Oregon had installed solar on 130 homes, adding 350 kilowatts of new PV capacity and creating 18 professional-wage jobs for site assessors, engineers, project managers, journeyman electricians and roofers. And the number of solar installations outside the Solarize program increased, too.

“[Climate change] is bearing down on us. It’s coming at us like a Mack truck.”
— Princeton climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer

A big advantage of ramping up solar installations is the pressure it puts on old-guard electric utilities that are stuck on outdated, climate-disrupting business models. Climate change is devastating millions of people, and wildlife. It is within a very few years of moving past a tipping point beyond which warming will accelerate under its own momentum regardless of human intervention. If this happens, we are heading toward a planet for which human life is not adapted.

So we must make enormous reductions in our carbon emissions and we must do so very soon. Since 40% of emissions come from production of electricity, one of the biggest steps we can take is to stop getting our energy from fossil fuels. But Charlotte-based Duke Energy – one of the largest corporate utilities in the world – still plans to produce only 4% of its power in North Carolina from renewable energy in 2029. Solarize helps all Duke customers by undercutting Duke’s case for continually raising rates to build giant power plants.

illustration by VC Rogers

The electric industry’s own trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, published a report in 2013 warning utilities that they need to adapt to “disruptive technologies” like solar or else go the way of the dinosaurs.

Duke does a good bit of solar, but it’s almost all out West where it has to compete for customers. In North Carolina, Duke is a state-sanctioned monopoly, so it doesn’t need to take the solar revolution seriously – or does it?

The solar revolution is well underway and Solarize is a program that lights a fire under it. Solarize brings already falling prices of solar even lower and enables large numbers of homeowners to go solar all at once. In just two years, Solarize programs in North Carolina have added over 2.5 megawatts of new solar power to nearly 500 rooftops (see details here), and we’re just getting started. This sends a loud message to Duke Energy that solar is here to stay.

Together, we can show Duke that solar and other clean technologies are not only the right answer for the climate and ratepayers, but the right answer for its corporate survival. Once Duke starts paying more than lip service to solar energy, it could be a climate game-changer, pulling the rest of the electric power industry along with it.

So if you think climate change is hopeless, think again. By just installing a few solar panels, you can save energy, save money, pay less taxes, emit less carbon and help pull Duke Energy into the 21st century.

If you’d like to do more, consider making a donation to NC WARN, NextClimate or one of the other Solarize sponsors listed here.

Get involved — we need you! Specific pro-solar, climate-saving actions you can take are listed here.