Ely: Critic all wrong about solar | AspenTimes.com

Ely: Critic all wrong about solar

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

As a small businessman designing and building solar electric and storage systems throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and the Western Slope for over 30 years, I feel compelled to respond to the Commentary from D. Dowd Muska on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Mr. Muska asserts that “solar is a bust,” specifically in the Southwest. He claims that solar contributes a very small percentage of utility-scale power but fails to mention “distributed” generation … that is, many smaller-than-utility-scale systems “distributed” throughout the Southwest and the United States.. His sources also profess that sunlight intensity is inherently low while financial incentives are high … in his mind, a lose-lose proposition.

This is all quite perplexing.

First, solar is far from a bust. Just ask Amazon, Google, Walmart, and the largest purchaser of solar technology in the United States: the U.S. military. As for weak light intensity, perhaps he is referring to the smog factor in metro Phoenix, Salt Lake, or Los Angeles. And, where does that smog come from? As for incentives, don’t get me started on the oil and gas subsidies that have been paid out for decades, reaping billions in profits for that industry.

Mr. Muska further notes that “solar is inefficient, unreliable, and — when all costs are considered — expensive.”

I would counter that when all costs are considered in the exploration, mining, extraction, transportation, processing, distribution, incineration, clean up, and addressing the long-term health issues related to fossil fuels … that cost is much greater. 

I think we can all agree there is no silver bullet, but research right here in Colorado advancing solar technology, combined with economies of scale, have brought solar energy to the forefront. The result is and will continue to be clean, affordable, renewable-energy production from the heavens above. One of our favorite observations reads: Ever seen a solar-energy spill?

Scott Ely