Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
On July 7, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, will introduce legislation that could push us toward the solar age. His bill, the “10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2008,” is being co-sponsored by Senators Kerry, Cardin, Specter, Warner, and Menendez.
It would require the Secretary of Energy to set up a program to provide rebates to individuals, businesses, and government buildings so they can put up solar panels on their roofs. Sanders’s goal is to put up panels on 10 million roofs in the next decade.
The rebate could account for up to “50 percent of the cost of the purchase and installation of the system,” the bill says.
For a copy of the bill, click here: http://sanders.senate.gov.
To qualify for the rebates, homeowners and businesses must demonstrate that they meet tough standards for energy efficiency.
In his bill, Sanders extols the promise of solar energy.
“There is a huge potential for increasing the quantity of electricity produced in the United States from distributed solar photovoltaics,” it says. “The use of photovoltaics on the roofs of 10 percent of existing buildings could meet 70 percent of peak electric demand.”
It would also be good for the economy. “Investments in renewable energy stimulate the development of green jobs that provide substantial economic benefits,” the bill states.
Sanders is hopeful about this initiative. “We can reverse greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. “We can break our dependence on foreign oil. Transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels can be a tremendous boon for the United States economy and create millions of good-paying jobs. This is a win, win, win situation.”