Enjoy the eclipse, y’all

Thinking about the sun for the last month or so has brought me to an obvious question: what has prevented sunbelt states like Mississippi from investing more heavily in solar power? For the amount of money wasted on the Kemper Power Plant–the total costs for the plant now top $6 billion–Mississippi Power could have subsidized rooftop solar panels for nearly half the state’s households.

Some of the challenges faced by renewable energy sources are regulatory; some involve engineering. What will it take to make Mississippi greener?

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24 Responses to Enjoy the eclipse, y’all

  1. Kendra Bradley says:

    The biggest problem for Mississippi is the price. There are no incentives that make spending that kind of money on solar panels or any other kinds of renewable energy. Many in the south don’t even believe there’s a reason to care about renewable energy, but not my point. My aunt is a green architect in Washington, D.C. and this summer, I had the opportunity to go with her to one of her meetings and see the groups work together to decide how they were going to build a particular set of townhouses. These townhouses, which were set to be built in Virginia, had to be LEED Platinum Certified, a requirement that meant they had to only use so much energy compared to how much they make. The way to meet the standards require solar panels, good insulation, special hot water heaters, etc. The extra supplies needed to meet these standards would cost several hundred thousands, potentially millions, of dollars. The reason this price would still be worth it is due to various incentives, such as a stipend from the state. Virginia gives a stipend-price unknown to me-for buildings to be built with these certifications in order to reduce their footprint. Mississippi would never consider something like that. Without money being given to them, why would people spend “unnecessary” money?

  2. Liz Huynh says:

    I agree with Helen that Mississippi and other Sunbelt states lack solar power panel because we don’t have set policies or funds to go greener. Mississippi has a large monetary deficit arises from the social problems. Therefore, Mississippi governors would more likely to use the tax money to relieve the immediate need of the people rather than investing it in saving the environment. The government would prioritize education, social services, and infrastructure over implementing greener energy source.
    One solution for Mississippi to go greener is to promote the effectiveness of implementing solar panel. Not many people are aware of this beneficial implementation. The government should also lower tax price to solar panel companies to attract the companies to Mississippi. Engineering wise, the government should increase funds for education and research, particularly in math and science departments. Education is the answer to many of Mississippi problems.

  3. Grace-Anne Beech says:

    Mississippi has not invested heavily in solar power because it lacks the initiative to take on that project. Mississippi needs to become more adaptable and keep up with changes in technology. To make Mississippi greener, the mindset of Mississippians would have to change. Mississippians would have to be more educated on solar energy. Another problem is the cost. The solar panels are expensive, and there is little incentive to getting them. Perhaps as solar energy becomes more affordable, Mississippi can begin to convert to solar power.

  4. Kiera Monroe says:

    Mississippi is one of the under-advanced states , as you can tell with Kemper Power. Also, many provisions have not been placed on solar power by sun belt states. Mississippi wont ever become greener because some of its people and its legislature is stuck in a closed mindset. It’s like Mississippi is a “follow the leader” kind of state; nothing is being renewed unless someone else has tried it, or it is not very risky. Until then, let’s keep wasting our money!

    External Sources:
    http://www.sunherald.com/news/business/article158675414.html
    https://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-more-59-million-investment-solar

  5. Jacob Lee says:

    There are several reasons Mississippi and its neighbors have neglected not just solar energy, but more renewable options in general. Even as more developments are made that advocate that not only does climate change exist, but that it is occurring at an unnatural rate, there are those that deny its existence. This will be a relevant fact that accompanies the next issue: cost. While it is true that solar energy will not, at the current tools available, pay for itself–there will almost always be more spent than made as of now. Cost and belief come together here and it comes down to this: many only see a negative profit margin and not the many positive environmental impacts that transitioning to renewable energy sources could provide. Perhaps as renewable energy becomes more affordable or when there is more widespread acceptance of the existence and negative impacts of climate change then Mississippi can finally utilize, not only solar energy, but renewable energy overall.

  6. Alexz Carpenter says:

    The problem with green energy solutions is that for most part they are not cost effective. They will never produce enough energy to pay for themselves. Large scale energy solutions like ethanol is a complete waste of money. It takes more energy to produce ethanol than ethanol produces. Why do we find it in our gas? Our taxes are used to bring down the cost through subsidies. On smaller scale energy production like solar panels, the cost of the panels are so high that they will never produce enough energy to pay for themselves. States that have a high use of solar panels by the population are states that give subsidies to offset the cost. When you have the federal government and the state government giving out subsidies effectively reducing the cost of solar panels as much as 66% they magically become cost effective. The money spent on the Kemper power plant was a so called investment in clean energy (or at least a cleaner energy). We can argue on which clean energy solution we should be investing our money in or even whether the federal and state taxes should be used to invest at all, but the real fact is we have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on clean energy and all of them have failed and continue to fail.

  7. Helen Peng says:

    Mississippi and other sunbelt states lack state policies and funding to support major projects such as implementing greener energy sources. While engineering for more efficient energy sources is an important component of advancing renewable energy, these innovations are ultimately useless if they do not have funding to both support research and implement designs. While research groups can rely on funding from the private sector, the most reliable and continuous funding should still come from governments. Not only this but if the private sector were to fund these projects, research would become more biased to advance these sectors’ specific interests instead of catering to engineering goals for the larger issue: the lack of renewable energy. Yes, some issues of solar energy does rely on engineering research but states such as CA have implemented solar panels despite the drawback, likely due to more progressive state policies regarding a greener planet. In addition, states like CA and CO have major public support which is not quite so in MS. The lack of public support and state resources overall could prevent effect funding for the research and implementation of solar panels.

    Because MS has been avoiding this issue for decades, perhaps environmental research and a larger base of public support will help increase awareness of the issue. The importance of renewable energy may not be so obvious in the present but the earths’s dwindling resources of gas and coal can only last us so long. In the long term, the fact that renewable energy research and innovation could save us from an energy crisis should be emphasized. And while innovations could help increase renewable resource efficiency, the implementation of renewable resources relies on careful planning and reliable support and funding.

  8. KC says:

    I believe it will take a lot of engineering to make Mississippi a lot greener. I say this because there are a lot of homes in Mississippi, whether it is homes as in apartments or homes as in free standing houses. First off, having as many homes in Mississippi as there is, there will always be the problem of scarce materials. You will have to make the decision of what company is going to manufacture all of these raw materials to make the solar rooftop panels. Secondly, you will have to regulate when and how these homes will receive the solar panels. Some of the people might not want to get the solar panels attached to their houses and then the people who do want them attached to their houses have no idea how to have them installed. The process will have to be thoroughly thought out by the group of engineers and planned accordingly. This plan of having everyone have solar panels on their homes is a great plan, but it needs to be planned well.

  9. Lori Feng says:

    The two main barriers against widespread adoption of solar energy include the cost of solar power and the hesitation of the public sector to induce regulations.

    I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mississippi has incentives for installing solar energy. For example, Green Power Switch, a program created by TVA, “provides a means for consumers sell the excess energy back to TVA.” Essentially, those who install solar energy can actually make a profit.

    Furthermore, the cost of solar systems in the US have already fallen by 50% in the last five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Elon Musk has also created SolarCity, a corporation that installs solar panels for free and creates reduced utility bills.

    However, the issue with implementing widespread solar technology is that there is a lack of support from constituents and the United State’s Federal Government decision making process is slow. The reason why India, China, and Bangladesh have been able to progress so rapidly with solar energy is because their governments have invested heavily in solar power.

    External Sources:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/solarcity-ceo-how-much-solar-energy-will-cost-in-5-years-2016-6
    http://www.solarcity.com/residential/how-much-do-solar-panels-cost
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/18/technology/china-us-clean-energy-solar-farm/index.html

  10. Loveish Sarolia says:

    Mississippi has been avoiding the hard-hitting topics for decades. Beginning back in the days of slavery, Mississippi refused to come to a consensus relating to slavery. Now, Mississippi is rated #46 in terms of energy efficiency in states. If Mississippi wants to be more productive and less wasteful the clear choice would be to implement solar panels into major power consuming sites across the state.

  11. Dev Jaiswal says:

    For Mississippi to become greener, the state would have to devise a plan for the coal mine and power plant workers to transition effectively to working on solar power. Before MS becomes greener, Mississippi’s workers need to become more adaptable and able to learn new trades and crafts as technology advances. The key to smoothing this transition involves fixing MS’s education system. The “brain drain” of Mississippi is a real problem. People are leaving MS to chase after their dreams in states with more opportunity. If the state’s money goes toward fixing education and not cutting heavily from it, then people are more likely to earn a higher degree in Mississippi that will allow them to contribute back to the state. Individuals with better education could theoretically be able to adapt better to new technologies and be life-long learners. By fixing the education system, Mississippi would be able to make a smoother transition to more efficient power.

  12. Anjeli Hoskins says:

    I feel that the problem with southern sunbelt states investing in solarpower is the change and start up costs. Many households with older members may not understand the benefits of solar power or how it pays for itself after a period of time; another part of this is that older generations are very stuck in their ways about things like bills and would rather do the way the parents and ancestors have done it. The start up coasts for solar panels might discourage many families for some families the cost of solar panels might cost several months rent. Perhaps with more education on alternative energy and maybe with payment plans on solar panels persuading southern sun belt to convert to renwable energy may be less of a challenge.

  13. Indu Nandula says:

    According to a study performed by WalletHub in the summer of 2017, we now know what states are the greenest in the nation. Of these states, Mississippi is ranked number thirty-five out of fifty. While this does seem like a decent rank, our small state lacks awareness in many of the environmental innovations that have made an appearance in the past few years. Moreover, because of President Trump’s EPA budget cuts, innovations such as solar panels can predictably be more expensive, and thus less accessible to people around the nation, especially in the smaller states. Additionally, an incentive is needed to take on such a goal. However, because they lack awareness about many environmental issues, the Mississippi population lacks incentive to even try and improve our environmental quality.

  14. Indu Nandula says:

    According to a study performed by WalletHub in the summer of 2017, we now know what states are the greenest in the nation. Of these states, Mississippi is ranked number thirty-five out of fifty. While this does seem like a decent rank, our small state lacks awareness in many of the environmental innovations that have made an appearance in the past few years.

  15. Jackie Ward says:

    Many people in Mississippi are highly uneducated when it comes to renewable energy. Some people may just not care about solar energy when the state or local government does not help fund these expensive endeavors that normal people may not ben willing to afford. Another reason that people may be highly undereducated on this topic is because power companies do not want the people to stop paying for power and so have most likely worked out a deal with the local government to enforce certain rules that may not be “green”. So all in all, we need to stop corruption, educate the masses, and get out government to fund solar power, or something of this green nature.

  16. Gene Kloss says:

    Solar panels are a very useful item for anyone that wants to save a bit of money down the road. They’re definitely an investment, but, like most investments, it should pay off immensely in the long run. The problem here lies with the fact that solar panels are extremely expensive with little incentive for Mississippians. Currently there’s not even a tax break for solar energy, so many people are fine with paying their normal price for their energy consumption, even though they’re using up a nonrenewable energy source that will be entirely gone in around 100 years. If there were any incentives for solar panels, there would more than likely be a market for them.
    If we could also make them more efficient, that would certainly help.

  17. Ashley Nguyen says:

    The people of Mississippi have not really been exposed to this kind of resource, and the great benefits that come along with it. Not only is this clean energy but it also reduces the cost for electricity. However this doesn’t come cheap, so are these benefits really worth the money being put into it. If it were up to me, I’d switch to solar powered everything in a heart beat, but why would any one else switch; if it’s easier and cheaper to stay the same. Mississippi has the potential to became a green state, but are we willing to spend the money to do so?

  18. Lane Hughes says:

    I don’t know much about clean energy and solar power and all of that, but when I read this, I think of the old quote, “He who has a glass house shouldn’t throw stones.” Specifically, are solar panels really strong enough materials to put in residential areas? Hailstorms, Blizzards, rain like cats and dogs, is it possible that we could spend extreme amounts of money just to have all of our things broken? While clean energy seems like a lovely prospect, it simply won’t work if we don’t have the science to make the panels almost “everything proof.”

  19. Taylor Shamblin says:

    Mississippi deserves to become a more green state. The main problem with converting from such a dependency on fossil fuels to renewable energy, is the complete lack of funding Mississippi allots to green energy. In Mississippi, only a sixth,2.4%, of energy produced is renewable energy. The state government does not focus on transitioning to renewable energy, they are more concerned with the immediate energy output of crude oils and nuclear power. Thankfully, many Americans are starting to turn towards renewable energy, like solar panels, for powering their homes. Laura Wisland, Senior Analyst of the Union of Concerned Scientists, states that in 2006 to 2013 the amount of people who owned solar panels increased by one thousand percent! This trend has continued in the following years, giving a bright outlook for the future of solar energy in Mississippi.

    External Sources:
    http://blog.ucsusa.org/laura-wisland/how-many-homes-have-rooftop-solar-644

  20. Zion Hargro says:

    Mississippi and its citizens need to focus more on what is safer and eco-friendly than what is cost efficient. But, as the old saying goes, money makes the world go around. The average residential solar panel setup of 5000 watts will cost about well over $10,000; with this being noted, according to the ACS, the 1-year survey shows that the median family income for Mississippi was $50,069 in 2015. Taking this information into account, no matter how great the benefits of solar power are, most hard working Mississippian home owners will not spend the additional money for a eco-friendly and safer roof for thousands of dollars when that money can be used for what they feel are more important needs. Most Mississippians are not aware of the great benefits of solar power, simply because they have not been exposed to these effects. All in all, the mindset of Mississippians needs to change positively in order for the state to become greener.

  21. I really enjoyed the eclipse. The food after the eclipse party was amazing. I had no idea that you can severely harm your eyes by looking at it; that is probably why I wear glasses now. I know that it will be probably a long time for the solar eclipse come back and fully complete its circuit. Overall, I really enjoyed the solar eclipse. I am glad I did not look at it with my naked eyes.

  22. Sophia Pepper says:

    In order for Mississippi’s energy sources to become greener, the general mindset of the population will have to change to looking beyond the old coal and unsustainable energy sources. Of course, it will take several years past that for anything to have practical implementations with our current governing body.

  23. Kaelon McNeece says:

    Mississippi, along with many other sunbelt states, hasn’t laid out any policies that control and support a solar-friendly utility plan. Since utilizing solar panels on property is legal but not yet assisted by the government, few businesses and even fewer residential homes attempt to implement solar panels. As of this very moment, an average residential solar panel setup of 5000 watts will cost about $10,000 to $13,500. This large price tag to install solar panels is not assisted by Mississippi’s median household income being placed at about $40,593 per year. Simply put, solar panels are too expensive for businesses or residents in Mississippi to afford on their own. Without policies supporting solar power as much as gas and coal, Mississippi manages to discourage anybody from opting to use solar panels to run their utilities. The best that can be done right now to make Mississippi greener is to advocate solar energy to policymakers in the hopes that it will be seen as a topic worth looking into and, eventually, supporting.

    External Sources:
    http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/02/10/why-there-arent-many-rooftop-solar-panels-in-the-south

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/americas-richest-and-poorest-states_us_57db167be4b04fa361d99639

    http://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/

    • Thu-Hash-Slangin-Poodler says:

      Implementing solar panels is very expensive, and solar panels on the best day, when the sun is directly overhead, are only capable of harnessing 60% of the energy they receive. This daunting fact, coupled with the reality that maintenance of these solar panels is very expensive (not to mention most Mississippi rooftops are sloped) for smaller instillations, occludes any chances that the government might start harnessing the sun any day soon. Frankly, a more realistic approach to sustainable energy is nuclear power, let’s dump billions into that!

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