Bill O’Reilly was talking climate change and his guest had just admitted that her plans to change the world would require a tax hike.
Bill was stoked: His guests on the O’Reilly Factor never say that.
But then she asked him what he was willing to do to save the planet. That is when it got a bit odd.
“Here’s what I’m willing to,” O’Reilly said. “I’d like to put solar panels on my house. And heat my house through the sun. I would like to do that for a reasonable amount of money. I don’t want to buy the oil every month. They can’t do it for a reasonable amount of money, number one.
“And its so complicated … I can’t do it. … So don’t tell me about my grandchildren. If they can figure out the solar panels, they can have them. But it’s all bunk. It’s all bull at this point for a guy like me. …I want a clean planet. But I’d like the stuff to work.”
So there you have it: In the world according to cable news superstar Bill O, solar is too complicated and too expensive.
O’Reilly’s remarks came hours after the Irvine Unified School District selected my company, SPG Solar of Novato, California, to install one of the most ambitious solar school projects in the country. With solar panels on 21 of its schools, the district will save at least $17 million over the life of the 20 year project; and will produce about half of its energy.
This will be an immediate 10 percent reduction in the district’s energy bills.
And ready for the best part, Bill O?
All this comes at no cost to the district.
That is how inexpensive buying and installing panels has become. That is how powerful the tax incentives are.
If you want to talk carbon, fine: Rest assured, this panels will prevent lots and lots of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Everyone loves that. But make no mistake: This deal could not have been done unless it made financial sense. So solar is not expensive.
But in Bill O’s world, this new solar energy system must be incredibly complicated and require lots of people to turn it on and off and other strange things.
Well, that is not true either. Because for all intents and purposes, the user, whether its Bill O on Long Island, or Irvine School Board member Mike Parhan in Irvine, will never have to do a thing. Other than pay a fixed — and lower — energy bill every month.
You want complicated, Bill O? Go to one of our solar installations at the Far Niente winery in Napa Valley where we built a solar energy array on top of a pond of water. The panels actually float — the first system of its kind in the world. That was a little tricky to build, but just like the school, all they do to get energy is sit back and watch the sun shine.
You want complicated? How about building five acres of solar panels in one of the most desolate (and strangely beautiful) places on earth: The Furnace Creek Resort and Hotel in the middle of Death Valley.
Or how about Livermore, California, where we built the world’s largest solar energy system for a movie theater, while never letting the movie-goers even now we were there.
The owners do not operate these systems any more than they operate their oil or gas or electric lines. They just sit back and watch their energy bills go down.
It is even simpler than it sounds, so I’ll stop before I start bloviating. Because when it comes to solar, that is Bill O’s job.
Making a simple and powerful and inexpensive solar energy system is ours.
Tom Rooney is President & CEO of SPG Solar Inc.