Aerial maps reveal clusters of solar-paneled homes in Dundalk, Arnold and Silver Spring, MD. These residents learned that rooftop solar saves them up to $2,500 on yearly utility bills. These savings capitalize college and retirement plans.

Farmers and the Chesapeake Bay can also benefit from new easements or zones allowing 15–25 acres of solar panels for every additional 100 acres of permanently conserved land. Solar energy sold to nearby residents helps farmers pay for water quality improvements. Residents save as well. Sunshine is cheaper than oil and gas.

Small, dispersed amounts of solar arrays dotting rural landscapes allow room for ever-green visual buffers that respect surrounding property owners, while protecting historic landscapes.

Solar can help the historic preservation economy. Most pre-1945 structures are energy inefficient, even when insulated. Solar panels discretely tucked away on rear lots, garages or on nearby farms eliminate big fuel bills for historic property owners and museums. The dollars saved can then go towards repairs, restoration or augmenting staff resources.

Some nonprofits have initiated community solar operations as a funding source. Other nonprofits might consider doing the same. Sensitively designed solar energy comprises a creative new medium of financial exchange, one that is beneficial to our economy.

Solar wins the cost-benefit analysis between solar and fracked gas proposed for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Eastern Correctional Institute. Solar would permanently save tax payers enormous utility bills at these facilities.

Students at UMES should be asked to choose between solar and gas energy. They will likely choose solar, particularly if presented an opportunity for valuable work experience developing a regional, solar retrofitting action plan. This plan would craft state and local zoning, and tax incentives, for more affordable residential rooftop solar. Partial property tax freezes on increased property assessments for solarized infill and building reconstructions is one vastly underutilized option.

Students can also plan renewable energy for local businesses. Solar and wind now power two U.S. steel mills. Indeed, a gas extension is not the most cost-effective option for Eastern Shore students, farmers, families and businesses.

Clark Hall

Culpeper, VA

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