It seems that every week brings us news of a new model for going green.
This is how one Wisconsin town’s plan could work (from the Midwest Energy News article):
A private company would install solar arrays on four municipal buildings at no upfront cost to the city. The installer would then own and maintain the systems over the life of a contract and sell the renewable energy credits they earn to the city of Monona.
In other words, the residents and leaders of the city want to invest in clean energy and don’t want to have to deal directly with a utility company. And they’re not the only ones.
It’s too soon to say if the city will be able to implement the plan, but the story indicates just how mainstream renewable energy has become. Community groups, school boards, nonprofit boards, small business owners, leaders of giant corporations, and city councils value clean energy enough to investigate new ways to go green. And they’re willing to test out innovative approaches.
Some of this outside-the-box thinking results from the fact that public policy often moves more slowly than public sentiment. In the case of Monona, Wisconsin, ambiguity about the legality of third-party owned power systems needs to be sorted out. Like the residents of Granville, Ohio, however, the folks in Monona value going green (and reducing energy expenses) enough that they’re willing to explore all of the best options available.
I also think that renewable energy tends to attract the type of people who want to find new solutions to old problems. Once upon a time, residential rooftop arrays were the main option for households that wanted to shrink their carbon footprint. Today, community-owned solar projects are popping up all over the country. Solar power models are continuously evolving.
When a city like Monona tests out an innovative plan, they make it easier for other cities to do the same. When groups look into community-owned solar, they unlock clean energy options for their entire area. Thank goodness for outside the box thinking. Thanks to the foresight and perseverance of people committed to renewable energy, innovative experiments eventually become mainstream.