During a Christmas-time visit to my former home state Colorado, I drove by the US Air Force Academy and noticed a large installation of solar panels on the grounds. With 300 days of sunshine a year and some of the bluest skies I’ve ever seen, Colorado is perfect for solar power. It’s likely I wouldn’t have even noticed solar arrays on the homes of tree-hugging Boulderites – but in conservative Colorado Springs and on a military base to boot. Now that has caught my attention!
I did some research, and it turns out that the Air Force Academy has 30 acres of solar panels representing 6MW of electricity generation. Annually, this installation saves the Academy over $1million and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 9,400 tons. The AFA project represents a partnership with the Department Of Defense, Colorado Springs Utilities and SunPower. And there’s more: as part of the larger DOD Net Zero Energy Initiative, this installation is only the first effort in the Academy going 100 percent renewable by 2020. You can read more about a variety of DOD Green Programs by clicking here.
The Academy and its solar arrays are situated along I-25, making a powerful statement and setting an example for millions of commuters. After all, if solar energy can power the training of tomorrow’s fighting men and women, it’s good enough for our homes’ energy needs!
There’s good news for homeowners, too. While solar energy has been around forever, the cost of converting that energy into electricity from parts, installation and maintenance and very long return-on-investment has been a major barrier to wider acceptance. But, technological innovations, lower priced solar components, more solar capacity in the US and more trained installers mean competition for our business and lower prices. And remember to research and capitalize on all available incentives – at the federal, state and local level and from some PV and component manufacturers. These can all help accelerate your ROI.
If you’re considering a remodel or reroofing your home, be sure and ask your contractor about necessary prep work to accommodate future solar. Doing so, will make sure your home’s structure is ready when you decide to add renewable energy KW hours to your home.
Next time you’re traveling, notice the ever-expanding adoption of various forms of renewables in other markets, too. Remember to share your experiences and comments with our eco-conscious readers.
Hoping it’s sunny in your world. – alex