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The energy challenge

August 04, 2008

Re "Living the dream," editorial, July 29

I am gratified to see The Times and oil magnates promote alternative energy technologies such as solar and wind. We are seeing more policymakers publicly connecting the dots on our energy future. Still, those of us in the renewable-energy trenches are finding the battle to install solar becoming more difficult as building officials implement new restrictions that are not only seriously increasing the costs but in many cases making it unfeasible to install panels on a great percentage of rooftops.

Instead of becoming less costly, streamlined or more manageable, the permit process in most Southern California cities has become a Sisyphean task. Almost daily, municipalities are adding fees and requirements that make getting a permit the most difficult part of going solar. If these trends continue, it will soon be impossible to get a permit for a solar system unless you are working for a municipality or a utility.

Patrick A. Redgate

Long Beach

The writer is president and chief executive of Ameco Solar and vice president of the California Solar Energy Industries Assn.

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Anyone thinking that Big Energy (including Big Solar and Big Wind) will solve America's energy problems must suffer from Stockholm syndrome.

As long as we are implementing a new paradigm and point-of-use renewable generation is feasible on hundreds of millions of properties already, why re-enslave ourselves to wasteful, wilderness-killing centralized power plants and massive power lines owned by monopolists, rather than working harder for independence from all Big Energy monopolies, whatever their fuel? The debate is not Big Fossils versus Big Renewables, it is Big Energy versus ratepayers and the planet. We all know which lobby is stronger.

With the loan programs The Times mentions and feed-in tariffs, modeled after the wildly successful residential photovoltaic and wind programs in 40 civilized nations, we could save our homes, our money, our wilderness, our planet and a bit of our independence. Let's do this right.

Sheila Bowers

Santa Monica

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