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Who Owns the Sun: People, Politics, and the Struggle for a Solar Economy Paperback – July 23, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Environmental activists Berman and O'Connor offer a scathing explanation of why solar technology has played such an insignificant role in meeting America's energy needs. Politicians, utility companies and even many mainstream environmental groups come under attack for either their lack of leadership on this issue or for their downright hostility to solar possibilities. The authors argue convincingly that the impediment to widespread adoption of environmentally friendly energy sources is no longer technological but rather the fear that private utility companies' profit margins will suffer. Numerous examples of the ways in which renewable energy advances have been sabotaged by politicians and utilities are presented, as are a wide array of solutions. The most interesting solutions include public ownership of utilities, enlightened building codes favorable or at least neutral to solar technology, utility company buy-backs of excess electricity generated by homeowners, tax breaks for the installation of non-polluting sources of power, removal of massive governmental subsidies of fossil fuels and equalization of governmental research dollars for renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Where such reforms are already in place, in the Netherlands and Israel, for example, solar energy is playing a very significant social role. This is a book likely to stir people to action.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Environmental activists Berman and O'Connor have written a critique of U.S. energy generation and use in which they lay the blame for the decline of the solar industry on the electric utilities and their allies in Washington, D.C., and state capitals. Beginning with a short history of U.S. energy policy, they detail the accomplishments of solar-power pioneers and enthusiasts, then depict an industry addicted to fossil fuels that is leading the country down a dangerous path. Though parts of this book are instructive, its authors never convincingly confront the core issues. For example, they presuppose that the Gulf War was fought over oil and had nothing to do with the invasion of a U.S. ally by a hostile country, and we aren't fully told why solar power must receive sizable tax breaks to compete with fossil fuels. This does not add up to a satisfying whole.?Randy Dykhuis, Michigan Lib. Consortium, Holt
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (July 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189013208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132088
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,163,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
"Who Owns the Sun?" is a densely packed, well written book with many surprising and practical revelations about where solar energy technology came from, how it has developed in the U.S. and where it presently stands. Drawing on the history of public vs. private power, the potentially crucial role of organized labor in the solar movement and the decisions being made by those who use energy primarily as a way to make money, Berman and O'Connor give a perceptive look into why our energy mix stands as it does today. By discussing the societal and environmental impacts of this mix we see renewable energy cast in a refreshing light. Gone is the euphoric notion of slapping some photovoltaics on your roof to solve the world's problems. Rather, by looking at the powers who control the energy supply and what they are doing to maintain that control into the future, we get a clear vision of the strategies that need to be considered by people concerned about the direction our world is going in. Cleaner less polluting options exist, but will these paths be followed by the same people who control the show right now? Probably not, and the authors give many lengthy examples as to why they feel this way. Ultimately, "Who Owns the Sun?" exposes much of the energy industry for what it really is, profit driven. By accepting this idea, the logic of the utilities and others controlling our energy fate becomes clear. And by acting on this logic we're able to begin stacking the deck in favor of consumer and environmental driven ideals.
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Format: Paperback
Using the sun as a source of heat and power is such an obvious no-brainer,

it has attracted forward-thinking types for many years.

But the solar industry still limps along, barely viable.

Without state subsidies - which now exist in many states - residential solar

energy is not economically viable (translation: it costs a lot more than the

electricity in your wall outlets.)

Even with state subsidies, few people install solar unless they are

ecologically conscious.

Why? How could the source of all life in our solar system not support viable

businesses?

This book recounts - in great detail - the history and politics of the solar

industry. It shows how again and again solar power has seemed on the verge

of taking off, only to crash back to earth again.

The authors are solar advocates, and at times they go overboard in seeing

conspiracies around every corner. Electric and oil companies are not

all-powerful, although this book sometimes make them seem that way.

Still, the book is invaluable for anyone seeking to understand why and how

solar power will finally catch on, as I believe must happen. It is

well-researched and comprehensive, and I recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Berman's text is a very provocative exploration into the world of electric power. In this case, it is a world which has always been disinterested in allowing solar power to flourish, and unable to act in the best interests of the people or the environment.

To anyone interested in, but confused about how the electric power system works, and interested in the development of solar technology and policy in the U.S., this book is a very valuable read. Certainly Berman makes the case for why such a simple power technology is now increasingly falling into the hands of big utilities and big companies rather than reaching the rooftops of homeowners, schools, and so on.

Written in 1996, the text is too old to really define the present moment, where so much has changed for solar power. Yet, in the U.S., solar energy continues to struggle to find a foothold. Given the dearth of books of this type out there, this is still an important read.
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Format: Paperback
Why did the U.S. drop the ball on solar power? Did it somehow prove uneconomic? Was the widespread sun-thusiasm evident in the 70s misplaced? Here's a book full of answers to questions you may not have known to ask. Here's a book touted as the match that will rekindle the drive for renewable, community controlled power generation; a carefully documented story about the concerted effort of oil and power companies to bury solar. Sadly, it didn't work ... yet, at least. But more and more people are coming to understand what's at stake. Yes they bought the patents and suppressed them. Yes they ran a tightly controlled disinformation campaign. Yes they bought presidents and congressional representatives. And more. Commercial interests took the U.S. from world leadership in renewable power to also-ran status. While Israel, Japan and others moved full tilt toward sustainability we bombed Iraq to keep cheap (sic) petroleum flowing. And then we bombed Iraq again and oil has hit $100 a barrel. The authors will enrage you at being duped and fire your desire for change. Here comes the sun!
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By A Customer on August 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John T Oconnor has some great insights into the reasons why solar energy is not more readily available and in use. Great Book
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