Editor's Note: This month's lead story goes to colleague, Sophia Mazurek.
After watching the Power Trip Documentary by Jonathan Scotts, I was instantly compelled to share it with everyone I know. This documentary encompasses the energy history of America and delves into major political, social, economic, and environmental issues that we have been facing for centuries. If you are passionate about solar, or if you are questioning solar–Power Trip will settle all arguments surrounding the industry. Not only does it unveil the dark parts of utility companies, but it sheds light on the importance of renewable energy and the power it has to transform a community.
Jonathan Scotts, best known for his starring role in the show Property Brothers, took the viewers through different parts of the country while meeting with residents, farmers, and corporate utility companies to discuss solar. He starts in states such as Georgia and Nevada, which are ruled by utility companies and legislation preventing net-metering, solar incentives, and last but not least–energy education. According to a Georgia farmer, “two years ago, you couldn’t talk to anyone about solar.” People literally didn’t want to hear that word come out of anyone’s mouth. It seemed as though there was anger surrounding it, or maybe just lack of understanding. Whatever the reason may be, we can conclude that this fear of solar derived from money-hungry politicians preaching the words “subsidy” over and over until you collapse into the safe, welcoming arms of your utility company.
In fact, there was an Amendment passed in Florida that prevented solar from gaining popularity. How ironic- the sunshine state of the U.S. bans the power of the sun! This amendment tried to trick solar supporters into thinking the ballot was pro-solar. According to the Miami Herald, “the amendment attempted to use the popularity of solar to embed new language into the Florida Constitution that could have been used as a legal barrier to raise fees on solar users and keep out companies that want to compete with the utilities to provide solar energy generation.” If you are still questioning this “narrative,” there is recorded audio evidence from Sal Nuzzo, who is the Vice President of Policy for The James Madison Institute, acknowledging just how deceptive the Florida Amendment 1 tactic was. You can clearly hear him state, “Remember this: solar polls very well… to the degree that we can use a little political jujitsu and take what they are pitting us on and use it to our benefit…use the language of promoting solar, and kind of put in these protections for customers who choose not to install rooftop.”
So now that we have uncovered the dark secrets of utility companies and politicians, let’s see how this push for toxic energy plants destroys lives and families. Jonathan takes us to Kentucky, where traditional America is still holding out hope for the coal industry. An industry that was once powering our world is now a dying flame. Not only do we lack the resources to continue with coal-powered plants, but we are suffering from their pollutants! This is where Environmental racism comes into play. 70% of African American communities live within 30-40 miles of a toxic emitting power plant. Is this a coincidence? No! The state grants these utilities the right to build power plants in low-income minority communities, knowing they do not have the money to relocate or the voice to be heard. These power plants are dumping coal ash into their water, causing diseases, cancers, and other major health problems. For years, they have been silenced and no action has been taken. It is time to eliminate the empty promise of "cheap" fossil fuels and start looking towards a reliable, clean, and safe resource. It is time for people in power to put humanity first.
As Jonathan noted:
My motivation to tell this story started out as environmental. It quickly became social, and then it was personal…this is not about your party, or the color of your state. This is about people, their lives, their planet. We all want better, healthier lives for our family and children. Whether you’re fighting to save the planet or save money, we all win if things change.
He hit the nail right on the head. We all benefit if we prioritize lives over money. We all benefit if we choose the planet. Lastly, we all win if we go solar.
Watch the documentary below!