The argument that some in the public policy community make for investments in solar energy is that it is a way to fight climate change, the theory that the use of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to warm uncontrollably. However, according to the Clarion-Ledger, a newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, solar is getting a full acceptance in the south, a region that traditionally is suspicious of the motives of environmentalists, for more traditional reasons. Solar is becoming cheaper and more competitive with fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal, and it is allowing homeowners and business owners to achieve energy independence.

Southern states do not have government incentives for renewables

States with more liberal governments such as California have generous tax incentives for Renewable Energy such as solar to encourage both utility-scale solar farms and rooftop solar energy systems. However, partly because of the unfortunate association that solar has with big, intrusive government, that form of energy production has not found much favor in conservative states, especially in the south, until recently. Hence, there is a conspicuous lack of tax and other incentives to encourage its use.

Solar is becoming cheap in the south

However, as technology advances, energy derived from solar power has become so cheap that it is about at parity with coal and natural gas.

Moreover, as aging coal-fired plants start to be retired, they are being replaced by clean forms of energy production, including solar energy. When utilities in the south start to see the economic benefits of going solar, they start to invest in the technology. Moreover, according to Reuters, solar panel and backup battery technology is slated to fall another 60 percent in the next ten years.

Solar means energy independence

Moreover, many southern homeowners and small business people are starting to realize that rooftop solar systems will give them a measure of energy independence. The idea that they can continue to have electricity, free of blackouts and price increases, has started to make solar technology desirable.

The cost of installing rooftop systems has decreased by 70 percent in recent years, making the incentive to going to the technology all the greater.

The bottom line

The bottom line lesson this development suggests that the key to switching to renewable energy is not to hector people about climate change or to save the Earth. For many people, these are dog whistles for big, intrusive government and higher utility prices. However, as renewables get cheaper and thus more competitive, the technology becomes more attractive. Add the energy independence factor into the mix, and the key to the switch has been turned.