Left in the West: Solar cheaper than coal

Left in the West:: Solar cheaper than coal
Solar power can now be more affordable now with new solar panels, even cheaper than coal.

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air.... That's the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that's ubiquitous because it's cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley-based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality.

That means producing solar energy will be cheaper than burning coal - and that's not calculating the following costs of coal:

-- Fuel (i.e. coal itself)
-- the damage done by greenhouse gas emissions
-- the damage done by particulate and mercury pollution
-- the damage done by mining and transporting coal

The future of coal is bleak, folks. There will be the usual proponents for kick-starting a booming coal industry in the state, but it's a fool's game, an industry that's already wavering amid environmental concerns and talk of a carbon tax.

Not a single tax dollar from this state should be spent on promoting or buying coal-produced energy. Instead, we should be papering our state, county, and city roofs with solar "tar paper," and handing out low-interest homeowner loans to state residents and businesses who want to increase home energy efficiency and use wind and solar to create their own power. It's safe, clean, and puts money into our pockets.