SPG Solar – Bill O’Reilly and Me
One week ago on the O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly made derogatory comments about solar energy that struck a nerve with SPG Solar President and CEO, Tom Rooney. In the guest post below, Rooney provides public facts that O’Reilly and his team apparently didn’t trouble themselves to find out. — Julia Wasson, Publisher
I did not set out to pick a fight with Bill O’Reilly. As a new edition of the old saying goes: Don’t pick fights with people who use power by the gigawatt.
But let this be said: O’Reilly drew First Blood.
It happened just a few hours after the Irvine (California) Unified School District selected my company, SPG Solar, to install solar energy at 21 of its campuses. The new energy system will save the district $17 million over 20 years; will generate about half the energy the schools need; and best of all for this cash-strapped district: It all comes at no cost.
This is an unusual deal because of its size — one of the largest in the country — not because of its cost.
The cost of buying and installing solar systems has gone down so much, and the incentives are so great, that many people around the country are using the savings from their new energy bills to finance new solar systems.
Bill O apparently never got that memo. Even so, I was still surprised to hear his curiously uninformed remarks about solar coming out of my television set:
I’d like to put solar panels on my house,” said Bill O, whose father was an energy company executive. “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.
As I’ve heard on Bill O’s show many times, People may be entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
At the Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, one of the finest in the world, we installed hundreds of solar panels on top of a pond. It is the world’s first system of floating solar panels.
That may have been complicated to install. But today, now that it is up and running, the only thing the owners have to do is look out the window and watch the sun shine.
There is nothing to turn on or off. At night, the backup power kicks in seamlessly.
Same at Furnace Creek Resort and Hotel in Death Valley, one of the most isolated and beautiful places on earth. It is also the hottest, and yes, installing it took some skill. But we did it. And today, it operates much like the one at Far Niente and every other energy system — solar or not: There is nothing to turn on or off.
And pretty much the only thing the owners have to do is sit back and watch their energy bills wither away.
In Livermore, California, we built the largest solar array on any movie theater in the world. That was a bit complicated, because we did not want to disturb the moviegoers during installation. And we didn’t.
One of the interesting things our educational clients do with their solar systems is to use them in the classroom. All over California and Arizona, school children are learning how easy and inexpensive — and important — solar energy is today.
Maybe Bill O could sit in at one of these classroom sessions before his next solar jag. Just because someone is bloviating doesn’t mean they also have to be wrong.
Tom Rooney, President and CEO
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