Friday, August 20, 2010

Obstacles and moving forward

Houston, being Energy capital of the world, is not as green as we think it is. Why is this? Why is Houston not moving forward with green energy? Austin, being the most (and only) liberal city in Texas, has much better policies and incentives than Houston. Solar panels are being installed everywhere there. More and more roof tops are converting to solar. Why is Houston stubborn about moving forward with solar energy? We get plenty of sunshine don't we? Why hasn't there been a solar revolution in Houston yet? Here are some reasons why I think Houston is shy about going solar....
  1. City's policies
    • Houston's solar energy policy is still evolving and it is still being developed.
    • There are no set regulations and policies to implement solar energy in the city.
    • There are plenty (and i mean PLENTY) of utility companies in Houston, but only about 3 of those (Reliant, Centerpoint and Green Mountain) actually does green energy (none of them do solar, but only wind). I know for sure that Reliant and Centerpoint does net metering.
    • Unlike Austin Houston does not have friendly laws for green energy.
    • Solution: There are many activists groups and awareness groups such as HREG (Houston Renewable Energy Group) who are working hard towards policy change with the city of Houston every single day. We need to create awareness among people and how good solar energy can be. Make the city realize that Houston is the 6th most polluted city in US according to Forbes.
  2. HOA (Home Owner's Association)
    • I find this to be one of THE BIGGEST road blocks that Houston has encountered and preventing the city to move forward in the green revolution. 
    • People are very stubborn and don't want their neighborhood to look any different. I know people who live in a community where they cant even plant flower in their gardens or put up a satellite dish in THEIR roof! How ridiculous is that? Its YOUR house but you cant do what you really want to do.
    • Way too many regulations only leads to frustration!
    • Unless we open our minds and think about how serious of a problem this is, HOA will always be a huge hurdle with solar energy.
    • Solution: Make people realize that adding solar panels increases the value of their house significantly. The HOA needs to understand that according to the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the houses with solar panels will SELL TWICE AS FAST than the regular houses. For the original article, Click Here
  3. Learning Curve
    • One other obstacle that needs to be overcome in the solar energy industry is the learning curve. 
    • This isn't your local mechanic shop or a coffee shop where people exactly know what it is and what goes on and how to use these shops.
    • Installing solar panels in your house comes with a learning curve, as in, you have to learn a bit about how solar energy works and how its connected to the utility provider or the main grid.
    • Solution: Educate people. Enlighten them about solar energy and all the advantages of installing the solar panels. People are willing to listen and willing to learn if we are willing to teach. 
  4. Finally, not enough Investors
    • I think this is the culmination of the above points. 
    • There isn't enough money coming in or investors willing to put their money in solar energy in the city of Houston YET. 
    • This is because of the above three hurdles.
    • Solution: Change the city's policy on renewable energy, change the HOA regulations, and finally educate people. The city of Houston will automatically ASK for more solar energy!
 This is for people who are STILL skeptical about whether or not your house value goes up. There is a commonly quoted study by ICF Consulting that puts some numbers to this. The study explains that saving $1 a year on energy costs adds $20 to your home’s value. In other words, saving $1,000 per year increases your home’s value by $20,000. Source: Click Here

1 comment:

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