Across the country, people will start tuning in today to see how well they've done filling out their brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament. President Obama bestowed the "First Pick" on Kansas, while I've got my money on Syracuse. I admit I'm biased; I have a degree from there. But the Orange look poised to make it to Indianapolis.
When it comes to making their picks for energy, three out of four Americans have solar going all the way in their bracket. National survey findings released today by Gotham Research Group found that 75 percent of Americans support developing solar energy plants on public lands. As good as Kansas is, they're leading ESPN's survey with only 40 percent support. In fact the support is higher when all solar technologies are included - utility-scale and rooftop; 92 percent of Americans say we should develop and use solar of all types.
In the Final Four of which energy source should be the top priority for the U.S. government to support, solar energy farms made it to the tournament championship with wind energy farms with support from 22 percent of those polled. Natural gas plants and nuclear plants finished well behind, both at 16 percent. Coal plants got upset in the first round with support from only 4 percent, within the margin of error for the poll. I'm pretty confident the West Virginia Mountaineers will have a better showing than that.
In the tournament final of what is the best use for federal land not being set aside for national parks and nature preserves, producing solar power blew out the competition as the choice of 38 percent polled. Drilling for oil (18 percent) and drilling for natural gas (18 percent) finished well behind. I hope the actual NCAA final will be a closer game.
Now that you've finished filling out your bracket, there's one more thing for you to fill out. Late last year, the Solar Energy Industries Association declared the Solar Bill of Rights (www.SolarBillofRights.org). These eight rights outline what politicians in Washington need to do to create a policy environment that allows solar to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuel sources. Right now, it's like solar is only allowed to play with one scholarship player while fossil fuels get a full complement of 13, plus being allowed to give financial perks to their recruits.
That's not the kind of March Madness most Americans want. The solar industry created 18,000 jobs last year across the country. Jobs were created in manufacturing centers in the upper Midwest manufacturing the components used in solar energy farms, as well as jobs in the Southwest constructing and operating solar energy farms. American workers are regaining a sense of pride because they're helping address our nation's biggest energy and environmental challenges with clean solar energy.
If you think the solar industry deserves to be able to compete on the same level as fossil fuels, go to www.SolarBillofRights.org/sign-on-now.html and take a minute to sign on. It's easier than picking the big first round upset and you'll have a big impact on creating American jobs and solving our energy and environmental challenges by deploying more solar energy.