Tom Humprey reports on a surprise from Bredesen's speech last night. The Governor wants Tennessee to be a major player in solar power R&D.
Like many of Bredesen's initiatives, this one probably won't go anywhere, especially with a legislature focused on conservative social engineering because the state budget is upside down.
But it's still a great idea. And he's right about our resources. We have ORNL and the nation's largest utility right in our back yard.
Rep. Stacey Campfield, however, being the expert on energy technology that he is, thinks this is a stupid idea because "we're not Arizona." Besides, we are already a "leader in hydro" (which produces less than 6% of the power on the TVA grid) and "clean coal." Right. And besides, solar panels don't work!
Rep. Campfield apparently wasn't paying attention to the R&D part, which is already being done right here in Tennessee. He's probably not aware that one of the goals of research is to make solar power conversion more efficient so it can be used virtually anywhere. Perhaps he's also not aware that East and West Tennessee are only one step down from Florida on the solar radiation scale.
And maybe he isn't aware that one of the world's largest producers of solar panels has a factory in Memphis, or that a leading supplier of silicon for solar panels is investing more than a billion dollars, one of the largest manufacturing investments in state history, to build a facility in Clarksville. He probably missed the announcement that Knoxville was selected by the DOE to be a Solar America City. He must also not be aware of the many homes and businesses in the Knoxville area that are already using solar power, including one that frequently gets negative utility bills.
So, yeah, Rep. Campfield is right. Investing in the technology of the future is a stupid waste of time and money. Our time would be better spent teaching kids about creation and how dinosaurs are only 6,000 years old. At least we will be well prepared when the conservative agenda finally propels us back to the stone age.
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