“Solar Rocks! As Long As I Don’t Have To See Those Ugly Panels!”

Everyone loves solar, right? Well, until someone puts the panels up

The general public is all for renewable energy — in theory, anyway. But recent renewable projects have raised hackles because of their alleged conflicts with wildlife, damage to Indian spiritual sites, and elevated earthquake risk. And now, objections to green energy based on their, well, ugliness are popping up in New Jersey and Nevada.

Residents and politicians in Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and several other posh suburban towns just outside New York City are attacking local utility company PSE&G for putting up solar panels. Specifically, in an attempt to double the Garden State’s solar capacity, the company has been installing 3-foot-by-5-foot solar modules on utility poles. And the reactions are less than positive: “It’s just horrible,” said Ridgewood’s Deputy Mayor Tom Riche, according to an article in The Record, of Bergen County, N.J. on Sunday.

And that’s the issue in a nutshell: people want cleaner, cheaper, more stable energy, yet, they don’t want to see it. Consider the Cape Wind Project: Ted Kennedy fought it for 10 years, because the wind turbines would be in view of his family compound, and be in the yachting area. He was all for “green” energy, just not stuff that affects him.

All these “ugliness” objections are hard to comprehend, even if, like an alarmingly large portion of the population, you don’t worry about climate change. Solar energy strengthens local grids, which prevents blackouts. Plus solar modules generate the most power at the height of the summer when air conditioners are cranked up and electricity demand is highest. Conventional sources of energy are dirty, damaging to our health and completely unsustainable. Is it asking too much of people to sacrifice a bit of appearance of utility poles (which, let’s face it, aren’t the loveliest things to begin with) for the sake of the greater good?

The story writer, Matthew Van Dusen, is completely off his rocker…..wait, I actually agree with him. I’ll say it again: there is nothing wrong with cleaner energy sources. Well, at least some of them. Corn based ethanol is a disaster. Wind turbines need to be placed far away from where people live, because they are loud. And where it doesn’t get so cold that they freeze. Solar farms need to be in areas that are clear cut, which I despise, but, deserts are good places for them. Better yet, this project to place solar panels piecemeal around is a good one. When I visit the parents in NJ, I see many of these panels, which is a fantastic idea.

Even if you think anthropogenic warming is complete bunk, you should back alternatives to at least some degree. I’d love to see more use of solar for small projects, as I have repeatedly stated. Why not make most street lights run on solar, with battery backups? Anyhow, anything that can provide more power for the grid is a good thing. And putting solar panels on utility poles? Come on, people, seriously, get over it.

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