Most people have an idea of what solar energy is all about, but many have never taken the time to learn how it could change their lives for the better. Well, one company wants to change how you power your home and help the environment in the process. Decentralized Power, the brainchild of Paul Mooney and Lane Fowler, “is a non-profit organization committed to reducing the effects of climate change through the subsidized installation of renewables technology nationally in areas served by Electric Member Cooperatives (EMCs).”
The organization’s first official project, Central New Mexico 100 Project, is aimed at developing resources for the “first 100 residential or commercial solary system installations in the Central New Mexico territory for 2016.” Participants may be able to “install a solar system on your property at a subsidized cost.”
I recently interviewed CEO Paul Mooney about Decentralized Power and educating consumers on embracing solar energy, as well as its implications for the black community.
HG: What are the goals of Decentralized Power?
Paul Mooney: By increasing renewables deployment in areas served by EMC’s, the result is less fossil fuels required to power over 50% of the United states land mass.
HG: How can Decentralized Power benefit the black community?
Paul Mooney: Climate change will impact everyone. Poor people will get the worst of it. Black communities are measurably poorer. They suffer from food supply chain issues, rising prices and natural disasters even more that white communities because they have less capital, credit, property and job security. For example: New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. In every way, help was slow to arrive and still has not arrived for many. Black communities impacted by natural disasters will be the last ones to be saved and rebuilt. That is a historically accurate statement based on modern history. It is easy for American society to look the other way when poor people and people of color are negatively impacted. The country suffers greatly from institutional racism and classism. The south, where the rural population has a high percentage of black residents is one of the most vulnerable area of the country. Flooding is the primary threat because the areas are low lying and warm atmosphere stores more water that is released faster and in overwhelming quantities. This is happening today in the south. Communities disappear overnight and with them 200 years of struggle for political momentum, representation and human rights are swept away.
HG: Some people, including prominent Republican presidential candidates laugh at the notion that climate change is real. How does Decentralized Power counter such a view?
Paul Mooney: I won’t waste any energy on them. The polls show rapid change in public opinion. I can’t counteract a 24 hour news cycle of propaganda especially on fox news and am radio. Out of control FEMA spending and skyrocketing property insurance rates will eventually build consensus. You can’t outrun a train. Eventually you have to jump off the track you are on or be crushed.
HG: How does Decentralized Power fight global climate change?
Paul Mooney: Every kwh generated from renewables replaces kwh’s generated at fossil fuel plants and the greenhouse gasses emitted from that generation. When the United States leads on technology, the rest of the world, especially China follows. People that argue why bother because China and India will offset our efforts ignore this historical truth. Computers, Internet, weaponry, telecommunications, we create the technology innovation they are quick to adopt.
HG: Big energy businesses like Shell, BP and Exxon, as well as the coal companies have exerted their control on politicians through lobbyists, how will Decentralized Power navigate the political landscape.
Paul Mooney: Propaganda is hard to sustain against a backdrop of constant natural disasters and skyrocketing mitigation costs. The tipping point, 400 parts per million; which we surpassed this year signals the point at which extreme climate events and their impact on all life increases exponentially. It is like standing on the beach waiting for a hurricane. You can pretend its not happening and be a denier until you eventually can’t anymore. That exponential intensity will eventually kill you and you will become a believer suddenly, hopefully at the point when you can still save yourself.
HG: Have you approached any lawmakers on the local and national levels?
Paul Mooney: I am just now approaching local officials in our first area. They already understand the gravity of the situation. That is very good news. They are looking for a viable solution to get behind. They feel the breeze, they watched the weather forecast and they are responsible for leading the community. They are seeing low interest rates and crumbling tax bases while seeing the cost of electricity increase. They are struggling with water and drought mitigation and some with disaster mitigation.
The members in the rural community will mostly respond to the financial considerations. They are getting poorer and as a non-profit we can save them 30% over retail. That is better than escalating energy costs. Lower system costs means lower tax credit that more accurately reflect lower incomes. If your income and tax liability requires you to recover the credits over 2 or 3 years it makes the affordability suffer. If the tax credits sunset at the end of 2016 because of political stagnation then affordability becomes even more difficult. When crisis hits money becomes available. I’m just trying to make it go further and offset more fossil fuel generation per dollar and the greenhouse gas emissions emitted.
If renewables are the answer then affordability and rate of adoption are the challenges. As a global society we will have to decide whether to fund the solution or face extinction. The planet will not be saved on the backs of exhausted consumer across the globe. Society will have to save itself. Governments will have to act. I believe we will rise to the challenge. Decentralized Power is just running ahead to clear the obstacles in the poorest area of the country. They use a lot of electricity and that burns a lot of fossil fuels and emits a lot of greenhouse gases.
I think Decentralized Power could radically change the way we power our homes in a cost-effective and cost-efficient manner. More dollars in the pockets of the middle class means more spending power.
Learn more about how Decentralized Power can help reduce costs by harnessing solar power.