In November, 7 members of the volunteer group Citizens Climate Lobby sat in our representative’s office in the Rayburn House Office building in D.C. and asked Andy Harris to co-sponsor H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. When passed, the bill will put a gradually-increasing fee on fossil fuel in the U.S. All the money from the fee will be distributed in equal shares to all citizens (kids get 1/2 share). The goal is to reward producers and consumers who avoid greenhouse fuels by improving efficiency and switching to renewable energy. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for good behavior?
Dr. Harris said he liked many aspects of the bill but was concerned that the equal-for-all dividend would disadvantage rural constituents who typically use more gasoline of necessity because of longer distances and fewer transportation choices.
That got me thinking: are there benefits to rural living which might offset the extra consumption of gas? Two things come to mind — roof tops and backyards, things most apartment dwellers can only wish for. Could sunshine and the year-round 60 degree heat under our lawns give us an advantage in the race to clean energy and efficiency?
My solar panels went up almost 5 years ago. They power the entire house and 20,000 miles of driving. Solar prices have come down since then. Electric motors are simpler and less expensive than gas engines; when the high price of lithium batteries comes down in a few years, electric cars will be cheaper to buy as well as operate. Maryland and the federal government both have incentives to help with insulation, geothermal heat pumps, solar electric, even electric cars. All the money saved by eliminating electric, propane, oil and gasoline bills each month, just might cover the loan payment on all the improvements; after 6 to 10 years when the payments are finished, the panels will give another decade or two of energy-bill-free living.
Needed: some adventurous souls who want to save the planet and some money: to walk into the bank and find out just how much that sunlight on their house/barn/store roof is worth. And when you find out, give Dr. Harris a call and let him know. When it comes to energy, perhaps rural people can’t afford NOT to innovate.