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For sustainability, time has come for solar power

The largest climate-change march in history took place Sept. 21 in New York City. More than 400,000 people joined together to demand genuine action on the issue. Hundreds of thousands more participated in coordinated events around the globe.

This is no longer considered the radical fringe. It is time to stop using fossil fuels.

Even those who made fortunes selling fossil fuels are bailing out. The Rockefeller Foundation has announced it will divest $50 billion from fossil fuel investments. Stephen Heintz, an heir of Standard Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, said the move to divest away from fossil fuels would be in line with Rockefeller’s wishes.

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Heintz said.

Solar energy is no longer the future. It is now. There is no better place on the planet to invest in rooftop solar energy systems than in Southern Nevada, where our greatest resource is the sun. Solar energy can power not only your home but also an electric vehicle.

The combined energy savings (electricity and gasoline) at our house is providing close to a 20 percent return on our solar investment. How much interest are you getting on your savings account?

I’ve said for years that solar was a good investment. Now that our system has completely paid for itself and will last for decades to come, there should be no doubt.

On top of all that, we have drastically reduced our carbon footprint, helped clean the air, and contributed to a more robust and reliable energy grid. Everyone benefits when homes are powered by the sun.

Photovoltaic, or PV, power converts sunlight directly to electricity. It does not use water (a real plus in the arid Mojave Desert) and rarely needs maintenance.

Our system has never required any attention at all. It just works. Panels are so robust that they come with performance warranties of 20 years or more.

Global implementation is growing rapidly and technological advances continue to improve performance while reducing cost. Photovoltaic power systems are easy and quick to install.

Options allow homeowners to buy a system themselves or lease one for little or no money up front. Either way, getting solar on every possible rooftop is of paramount importance to our future. The revolution to democratize and decentralize energy is happening now.

■ Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour:

The shift to renewable energy is a good way to control energy costs over the long term. One of the best ways to find out more is by attending the Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour on Oct. 11.

The tour is organized by Solar NV, the nonprofit Southern Nevada chapter of the American Solar Energy Society. Each year, the society organizes the National Solar Tour with well over 100,000 attendees in communities across America.

The event provides a way to meet and learn from the growing number of people who are reducing their energy costs and carbon footprints through renewable energy, green building and efficiency strategies. Each stop on the tour is unique. And because it’s self-guided, you can decide what interests you most.

This year’s tour will be a departure from previous tours. Rather than being spread all over the valley, Solar NV is focusing on the northwest this year.

The tour will feature fewer homes, but they will be closer together, making it easier to see them all since participants can spend less time driving and more time talking with the homeowners about their experiences living in a solar-powered home. The tour’s cost has been reduced to only $5 per vehicle.

The Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour has been a yearly event for the past decade and often sells out in advance. For more information and registration details, visit www.solarnv.org.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Steve, visit www.greendream.biz.

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