LSC is participating in this year’s Give Local Louisville, with donations going towards our new Solar Over Louisville (SOL) program. Today we’re exploring the potential impact this program can make on the community.
Louisville was ranked this year by the American Lung Association as the 15th most polluted city in the country in regards to air quality. Did you know that?
We’re located in a river valley with stagnant air that makes our pollution problems worse — so it’s crucial we do everything we can do reduce that pollution. We can’t control our geography, but there’s so much else we can do, as individuals and as a community, to improve the quality of our air.
Solar Power for Clean Air, Better Health, and More
Polluted air can lead to a whole host of health problems. The World Health Organization names air pollution as a contributing factor for serious health issues such as heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and stroke.
Solar energy is one way for Louisvillians to reduce our air pollution. The more solar energy being created and used in the city, the less energy will need to come from the burning of fossil fuels — one of the biggest causes of pollution.
Improving air quality is a necessary goal, but it’s just one of the many benefits of solar energy. Renewable energy sources have overall positive effects on the environment as well as long-term energy cost savings. Solar in particular has even more economic benefits in the form of current tax credits at both the federal and, for the time being, state level.
Fossil fuel prices are somewhat volatile, and there’s good reason to believe prices will only go up in the future. This isn’t the case with solar energy, which comes from the free and renewable source shining on our roofs and roadways. And with the costs to install solar energy systems falling every year, on top of the available tax credits, the upfront costs for getting set up with solar energy are lower than they’ve ever been.
In fact, with financing options, it’s possible for homeowners and businesses to have systems installed with little or no money upfront — and many such systems can cover 100% of a building’s energy needs.
Yet another economic benefit is the creation of local jobs in the solar industry, which is helped further by tax credits. Tax credits work by reducing the amount you owe the state or federal government — in essence, the government is paying for part of your installation costs. This means that state or federal funding is going directly to local solar energy installation companies and the jobs they provide.
Solar Power Possibilities in Louisville
There are countless possibilities for solar energy use throughout Louisville. Kentucky has good solar resources, making the state a prime candidate for increased solar power.
Homeowners can install roof systems to supply some, or all, of their home’s energy needs. In fact, a system can end up supplying more energy than a home needs. Excess energy gets put back into the electric grid, and the homeowner gets a credit on their bill — in other words, LG&E pays you for the energy you provide.
Businesses can see incredible cost savings through the use of solar systems. Many large businesses already embrace solar, including Walmart, IKEA, and Kohl’s. Giant buildings with their huge, flat roofs may seem like obvious candidates for solar power, but smaller businesses — and businesses with smaller buildings — can benefit as well. Local brandy distillery Copper and Kings is an example of this.
Another group with large, flat roofs is the public school system in Jefferson County. Across the country, more and more schools are installing solar systems — the number of schools with a system is currently over 3,000. Thousands of other schools and districts would benefit from a system: beyond the energy savings to help to offset the many other costs schools face, having a solar energy system in place provides an invaluable potential learning experience for students.
Other buildings — religious buildings, government buildings, event spaces, and so on — provide excellent candidates for solar power as well. While some such buildings in Louisville have already embraced solar power (such as the Green Building), many more could still benefit from it.
Solar energy has some less obvious, but very intriguing, possibilities as well. It provides an Earth-friendly option for charging electric vehicles — and can even be used to power freestanding community charging stations. New uses for solar are being researched all the time, and some promising potential technologies include include solar roadways, solar carports, and solar shingles.
All of these existing possibilities for solar — and more — can be realized in Louisville. To get there, though, it starts with education, and that’s where Solar Over Louisville comes in.
What Solar Over Louisville Can Do for the Community
For Louisvillians to embrace the potential of solar power, they first have to be made aware of that potential. SOL intends to spread awareness and understanding of everything solar power has to offer.
Our goal to create a demonstration-education model of a solar energy system will give the public an up-close look at how solar systems work and how they can be used for homes and businesses.
Our goal to host events, tours, and presentations will give large groups access to information about solar power, its uses, and its many benefits.
Our goal of connecting people with financing options for solar will allow more and more people to install their own systems, increasing the overall solar energy wattage.
Our goal of promoting the tax credits on solar will show how accessible and affordable a solar energy system can really be.
Our goal to facilitate community solar systems will allow people who don’t have solar resources to benefit from solar energy even without installing their own systems.
Our challenge to reach two million installed watts of solar energy will motivate SOL to pursue its goals while inspiring homeowners to participate by installing systems and registering them with SOL.
Solar Over Louisville will bring together homeowners, community leaders, businesses, and organizations to make all of these ambitious goals a reality.
And all of SOL’s efforts will contribute to another important goal: to improve the environment, air quality, and economy of Louisville to help ensure the health of its citizens…while making a positive difference in the health of the planet.
Making Louisville a Leader in Solar Power
As a city, Louisville is far behind where it could be with solar energy use, both in relation to the rest of the country and the rest of the state.
A recent study by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center named Louisville as the 50th city out of 50 for solar value to consumers.
Within the state of Kentucky, we’re losing out to Bowling Green: on top of already having a solar farm, they’ve recently implemented legislation making solar power more feasible and attractive for commercial property owners.
Louisville could be a leader in solar power, both in the state and in the country. Making our city an area leader in solar energy will attract new people and businesses — and give Louisvillians one more thing we can be proud of. All it will take to get there is widespread awareness, drive, and support.
Solar Over Louisville Needs Your Support to Make It Happen!
The ambitious, community-focused sustainability goals of Solar Over Louisville are only one piece of the puzzle. To help the community learn about and utilize solar energy, SOL needs the support of the community.
As a program of the Louisville Sustainability Council, SOL is uniquely suited to helping our city move forward with solar power. “LSC’s great strength,” said Nancy Givens, a member of the LSC Green Economy Action Team who helped create SOL, “is reaching people across sectors throughout the city and bringing them together in targeted ways to achieve success.”
With the strength of the LSC and the dedication of our members to our cause, we have the foundation we need to really make a difference. But it’s not enough. A successful Solar Over Louisville campaign will need funding: to hire a staff person, to procure supplies, to hold events and presentations — to carry out the mission of the campaign.
That’s where you come in.
On Thursday, October 1, the Community Foundation of Louisville is holding the second annual Give Local Louisville. For 24 hours, local nonprofits can benefit from a huge, city-wide fundraising drive and a large match pool of funding — and we’re asking for your help in supporting Louisville Sustainability Council and our new Solar Over Louisville program on this day.
Your support is instrumental in making our goals a reality. If renewable energy, clean air, and economic sustainability are important to you, consider a donation. Through the Give Local Louisville match pool, your donation will go even farther — and do even more good in the community — than it normally would.
Gaining Momentum for Solar Power in Louisville…
Our members are excited about the possibilities of Solar Over Louisville and what it can do for our city:
“Solar Over Louisville is a positive campaign that works on solutions instead of simply pointing out problems.” — SOL member Tim Darst, of Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light
“Until recently, there was very little widespread public awareness of opportunity and importance of solar. Now we have an opportunity to propel Louisville forward in solar energy.” — SOL member Nancy Givens, of Avery and Sun Solar Installations
“Solar Over Louisville is full of people who share a vision for clean energy. This donation drive will help get the program going so we can educate people on how viable solar technology is — and how much fun it can be.” — SOL member Wallace McMullen, co-chair of the Louisville Sierra Club
And the timing for our new program couldn’t be better. Solar energy is being talked about in Louisville now more than ever: a Metro Council resolution supporting solar energy was passed just a few weeks ago, and the topic has appeared in the Courier-Journal recently as well. The first Louisville Solar Summit was held in August, and a Solar Tour is upcoming in October.
We need to take advantage of this momentum. Solar power has the potential to make real changes in our community and the world beyond. The Louisville Sustainability Council and Solar Over Louisville want to help turn that potential into reality, and we’d be thrilled if you joined us.
Donate to LSC and take part in changing Louisville for the better.