Clean Power

Published on November 17th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Oprah & Sarah Palin, Time to Make Solar Mainstream

November 17th, 2010 by  

One Block Off the Grid (our former owner) has a great post this week on “Why Solar Can’t Go Mainstream Without Sarah Palin.” While I don’t agree with every specific point in the article, I think the general points are very important and it is an excellent overall piece.

The general points are:

  1. Solar energy is primarily associated with certain people, benefits, or terms that pigeonhole it (i.e. climate change, Al Gore, Obama, the environment, hippies, rich greenies).
  2. Solar needs to be associated more with topics that are more broadly or deeply important to people (i.e. saving money, national security, financial investment, independence, Conservatives, job creation).
  3. Key figures in the mainstream media and popular society need to pick up the topic more in order for this shift to happen (i.e. Sarah Palin, Oprah, Donal Trump, Jim Cramer, or Glenn Beck).

As with many things in this world, people are more influenced by people they can relate to and know well (or think they know well) than statistics or impersonal information.

In the case of solar, if you live on the same block as someone who has it, 1BOG has found that you are 222% more likely to go solar.

So, of course, as more people go solar, it should have a sort of snowball effect. But how do you get the initial neighborhood leaders to go solar? One key way would be to get the celebrities they trust, relate to, and whose advice they follow to go solar or encourage their supporters to go solar.

While people like Al Gore, President Obama, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio might have some effect in this arena, they won’t have as strong an effect as people coming from an “environmental protection and climate change aren’t important” perspective or people like Oprah who greatly influence people’s actions.

1BOG came up with this little graphic below to show the theoretical difference visually. Clever.

Great piece by 1BOG and excellent graphics to go with it.

Now, if we could only get Oprah to read it…

Image Credits: 1BOG

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • “To make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
    ~Buckminster Fuller, (His Vision)

    “It seems to me that whereas power usually means power-over, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power.”
    ~Mary Parker Follett

    “This is the problem in business administration: how can a business be so organized that workers, managers, owners feel a collective responsibility?”
    ~Mary Parker Follett

    “We must remember that most people are not for or against anything; the first object of getting people together is to make them respond somehow, to overcome inertia.”
    ~Mary Parker Follett

    The fundamental problem that we face is that legacy carbon-based industries control the political process, economic institutions, and public fears. Furthermore, not only do economic elites tied to these industries have a stake in the status quo, but so do millions of our parents, grandparents and ourselves through our pension plans, 401Ks, IRAs, investments and jobs.

    There are other elements to our conundrum that must be grappled with;

    The raison d’etre of large swaths of our economy will be threatened with wide adaptation of green tech, including;

    Consumption-Based Industries
    The Military Industrial Complex
    The Political Industrial Complex
    The Agricultural Industrial Complex
    The Prison Industrial Complex
    The Medical Industrial Complex
    Etc. . . .

    Those of us in the green movement and honest economists and thinkers know that many more jobs and much more economic productivity, that is sustainable no less (the bane of consumption-based industries), can be had in a green economy but a green economy is still pie-in-the-sky to people losing jobs, homes and businesses.

    . . . “since there is no viable alternative to private development, there is nothing for the unemployed and underemployed to do but to support more development (and more pollution) in the hope that one of these days a job for them will come along. It is not enough to tell them that they are caught in a self-defeating cycle. The developers at least offer them a promise, the anti-developers offer them nothing.”
    ~Geoffrey Faux, Exploring Contradictions; Political Economy in the Corporate State, 1974

    The way forward is to take a DIY, from the bottom up (BOP) approach in our communities by building communities of purpose (COP) around networked citizens using market-based local solutions to fund and empower green initiatives.

    A way to get Oprah, Sarah, The Donald, Newt, Juan, Leroy and Joe the Plumber on board the coming green wave can be found below;

    Green Future; A Synergistic Approach to the Triple Bottom Line (*TBL)
    A project to build community and more participatory political and economic systems and a green consumer base using a synergy of people, commerce and social objectives by building citizen-led, for-profit businesses with social justice and green metrics as bottom line.


    7 Reasons Why Greening Up is Hard to Do

    By Anna Clark
    Published April 08, 2010

  • Phil Reinhardt

    People falsely assume, that because of all the buzz about Solar, that it is ready for the masses. At this stage (Early Addapters)of market development Solar is only for those people that have INVESTMENT DOLLARS, money they have already earned, to pay their net cost of a system. Then it is only about ROI not when it pays for itself.

    • We are in our third year of having solar panels on our roof and it was a very good decision for our family. Our first end of year “true up” time we paid $16.oo for our annual electric use. The second year it was about $400 for the entire year. We are a household that uses a lot of electrical computers, gaming equipment etc and our power usage was high before. Now we watch our usage for things like laundry and do them in off peak hours. The solar panels use “free” energy from the sun that is not harmful and will not cause any radiation or pollution. The initial cost is high so instead of buying the panels we made them on our own! Read the advantages that solar power has to offer here

  • Unfortunately, if you look on Glenn Beck’s Facebook page (where he has more followers that Obama), you see pretty blatant anti-solar propganda like “obama put solar on the white house. solar planels last 25 years and take 50 years to pay off. yep, sounds like obama” — so yeah, uphill battle.

  • Oprah, yes, great idea! (Palin would clearly not do it. Or it would take more money than the fossil industry pays. I don’t know if the solar industry could compete with that).

    But yeah, the solar industry clearly needs to collectively hire serious PR people to change the common wisdom. Homeowners truly have no clue.

    • Susan, you may find interest in the following;

      Larry Hagman (remember J.R. Ewing from Dallas?) is storming the media landscape by starring in a pro-solar advertising and publicity campaign in which he proclaims “Shine, baby, shine!” The initiative issues a “solar wakeup call” inviting Americans to go solar — and do so smartly by embracing the value of high-performance photovoltaic technology made by Americans according to U.S. quality, environmental and labor standards. The July 13 launch of the campaign coincided with SolarWorld’s gift of 100 kilowatts of solar panels to the Solar Electric Light Fund, which Larry serves as board member, for use on Partners in Health clinics in Haiti. For a look at the ads, documents and a contest supporting the campaign, go to

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