There is a way.
Alabama could invest more in solar energy, which would cut down on the greenhouse gases that contribute to warming and power the air conditioners that give us relief from it.
Considering how the Bentley administration and its allies in the state Legislature enjoy handing out tax incentives for businesses, you would think Alabama would be a goldmine for those who sell, install and use solar panels, wouldn’t you?
If you thought so, you would be wrong.
All around us, states — Tennessee, Georgia, Florida — are active in promoting and supporting the solar-energy industry. Alabama, on the other hand, isn’t.
Solar-energy equipment is getting cheaper, the technology is getting better, and there are generous tax incentives from the federal government. But Alabama stays at or near the bottom when it comes to helping residents and businesses go solar.
In this instance, Alabama remains mired in 19th-century thinking. The main alternative-energy effort Alabama readily supports is the installation of a wood-burning stove. For that, you can get a personal income-tax deduction.
The time to act is now. The technology for solar energy is such that it is close to reaching “grid parity,” which means power generated by solar panels is as cheap, and in some cases cheaper, than power available from utility companies.
Efforts to promote solar energy in other states have come as a result of cooperation between utility companies and those states’ public-service commissions. These are examples the Alabama Public Service Commission and Alabama Power Co. could use to create a similar program for our state.
Solar energy is not the whole answer — cloud cover and muggy conditions mean Alabama is not as ideal a solar-energy state as those in the desert Southwest. But that does not mean the state can’t take advantage of the new technology, generate solar energy, reduce the size of its carbon footprint and help businesses and individuals save money.
We can, and we should.