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Arco's Quick Profit in Its Sale of Solar Technology Is Bad News for the Nation

August 27, 1989

I must also echo Representative Elton Gallegly's sentiments ("Siemens Wins Bidding for Pioneering Arco Solar Unit") that the sale of Atlantic Richfield Company's Arco Solar Inc. to Siemens of West Germany is not "in the best interests of the country's economy or national defense."

In this case, we are not only talking about U.S. technology that can positively build the U.S. competitive edge, provide reliable domestic energy, lower environmental degradation, strengthen national security, lessen Third World debt and aid the U.S. balance of trade. We are also talking about technology that John Q. Public has helped pay for via federal and state taxes.

The focus on energy issues is increasing rapidly because of all its geopolitical, economic and environmental baggage: global warming, oil spills, our growing reliance on imported oil, the increasing cost of imported oil ($40 billion to $50 billion er year), projected energy price increases and the battle over cleaning up urban air. We can't lose sight that photovoltaics (and solar energy technology in general) can help tremendously in providing solutions to these problems.

Inefficient energy use wastes at least one-twelfth of the gross national product of the United States. If the United States were as energy-efficient as Western Europe, we could save $200 billion a year in energy costs. If we selected the best energy buys until the year 2000, we could save several trillion dollars--enough, in principle, to pay off the national debt.

In 1988, Japan and Germany surpassed the United States in photovoltaic research. Exxon spent twice as much money (over $1 billion) cleaning up the Alaskan oil spill as the federal government has spent, in total, on photovoltaic research and development.

While photovoltaics is not the only solution to our energy and environmental problems, it should be considered a major contender. Americans cannot afford to let their investments in photovoltaic development slip away.

MARC RIES

Anaheim

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