Kissimmee, like so many other cities in Florida, is taking most of the burden from climate change, in the form of hurricanes and floods. Tired of sitting back and waiting for the inevitable storm to hit, Kissimmee has decided to take a proactive stance to help make it less vulnerable and more environmentally friendly. Following the 2017 Climate Accord, Kissimmee realized that with the expected sea level rise, that it either had to become greener or the city would suffer dramatically. One avenue in which the city hit upon was the idea of renewable energy, and solar energy in particular.
Recently, the local government announced that it has plans of partnering with the Kissimmee Utility Authority to power 100% of the Kissimmee City Commission building with solar by 2020. By calling for such a dramatic switch in energy collection and usage, it is sending a strong message of standing by the climate accord. Solar panels much like other renewable energy sources bring a large upfront cost and progressively gets reduced over the years until you actually start saving a significant amount of money. Thus, proving that not only does solar panels have a positive environmental impact, they also have a strong monetary incentive attached to them as well. This claim is further supported by Drawdown which argues that solar panels are a cost effective way of reducing carbon emissions. They report that building panels on buildings roofs will cost 453 billion dollars in installation expenses, but by the year 2050 will have a 3.46 trillion dollars in operational savings. The decision of requiring government building to install solar panels seems rather practical considering the amount of sunshine that these panels can absorb, not to mention the vast amount of sunny days.
The local government is not alone in this endeavor. Local energy companies are having a great deal of success convincing homeowners to purchase solar panels. Websites such as Solar Estimate, allow you to enter your address and find affordable solar options near you. Their simple layout makes it straightforward when trying to calculate how big of a panel is required to provide all of your household energy. The most popular selection right now is a 6 kilowatt panel which would cost roughly $16,450 to install. They also provide an easy to read chart which showcases the long term benefits of having a solar panel. Every year the cost of the panel will decrease until you actually start saving more and more money. The beauty of using a solar panel is that not only are doing something that has great environmental benefits, you are also saving money. Kissimmee is so gung ho about having residents use solar, that they made tax breaks for any resident using it.
Image courtesy of https://www.godfreyhoffman.com/blog/solar-panel-parking-lots
Lots of local companies and organizations are coming up with clever ways to utilize solar panels. Personally, one of my favorite solutions is through putting solar panels in parking lots. If you have ever parked a car in a parking lot you would have noticed that your car’s seats are constantly toasty as a result of sitting in the sun all day. By implementing solar panels shades in parking lots, the cars will get some shade and the unharnessed sunlight will get collected and stored to help improve local infrastructure efficiency. Overall, I truly believe, that Kissimmee is taking the right approach to addressing the environmental challenges that it is facing. It is only through government policy and actions, along with local supports and usage that this problem will get resolved.