Sunday, August 2, 2015

An infrastructure idea for Bernie Sanders, Solarize the schools

Here is an expansion of my idea to Solarize the nation's power supply. Now I admit it cannot be done solely by the government, however the government can spur the process along through a judicious use of demand side. Specifically I believe over the next five to ten years the federal government should spend quite a bit of money to install solar panels on school buildings throughout the Deep South and southwest, the so-called Sunbelt.

These units could run anywhere from 400,000 to almost 2 million dollars per building depending on the size. (As seen here). " where would we get the money" you ask.  Well let's start withThe hundred twenty to 200 million dollar that the US government has been spending on tanks that the military does not want or need.
And there are other places in the military budget where Congress buys things the military does not want, and these items can easily be transferred to a project like this. I'm sure we could scrounge up between 500 million and a billion dollars each year for 5 to 10 years if we were honestly willing to consider it.

Now let's look at the benefits of this project. I will start with the direct economic benefits.  First off we would create a demand for New Labour and put people directly to work. Secondly those school districts who had the installations would now have the ability to hire more teachers or teachers aides and/or cut the local budget.  Thirdly, if we put in a requirement that perhaps 70% of those solar panels were manufactured inside the continental United States we could double or triple the number of new jobs created.  Additionally by creating this demand in the short to medium term we would spur investment into these sorts of projects.  Investors venture capitalists and the like would jump on the bandwagon to invest in companies that were either installing or manufacturing solar panels if they saw a medium term demand that was guaranteed.

However there are two other benefits that often get lost in discussions like this.  The first is that a decentralized power grid is in this nations self defense best interests.  If another nation ever attacked us it would be far harder to knock out our power grid if our power generation was decentralized in this fashion.

The other benefits is also economic, and that is the economics of scale... by creating a massive demand for solar panels over a decade or so we lower the individual cost of those solar panels which then makes it more economical for homeowners and small businesses to likewise invest in solar energy, which would again increase the demand and increase the economic activity thereof.

Let's do the math... $1b for 10yrs is 500-1000 installations per year.  If we figure 100 people per location, that is 50-100k DIRECT new jobs (installers and support). If we add in the 70% manufactured in the US requirement, that can perhaps double that amount... however that also does not include the ripple effects such a project would have, which would include more teachers and teachers aides, and all the spending that those 100,000 to 200,000 well paid middle class workers did over those 10 years.

However we wouldn't even need to stop with the schools... military bases almost require their own independent power source so Solarize our military bases in the United States... we could even use those projects to train military personnel who are leaving the military so that they have job skills when they get out.  And after the buildings have solar panels on their roofs we  can move toSolar carports with car battery charging and turn the millions of acres of useless parking lots into energy creation, while eliminating much of the oven effect of parking your car in the Sun.