Letter: Solarize Kent’s new city hall

I was very disappointed to find out that Kent’s new city hall will not have solar panels installed as an alternative energy source to help reduce the CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. At the last couple of Kent Council meetings Keramida’s climate action plan was presented and approved last week. The plan is in line with the Sustainability Commission’s intention which is to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Kent City committed to addressing its contribution to creating a more sustainable community. What I don’t understand is that the new city hall will not be serving as a model to the homeowners and businesses of Kent or even as a model to the surrounding communities in Portage County and other cities in Ohio.

Why am I so concerned? Because we all need to be concerned. The recent United Nations IPCC report said that the world’s current use of fossil fuels will push the planet to dangerous levels of warming by the early 2030s. One activist summarized this situation as “the climate time-bomb is ticking.”

Science has been strongly supportive of the immediate need to switch to renewable sources of electricity, including solar panels primarily because of their efficiency, dependability and drop in price. I am strongly committed to advocating that the best way to reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by municipal, commercial and multi-family buildings is installing solar panels and thereby changing their primary source for electricity. Financial support may need to come from a revised city budget and funding from NOPEC, for example. Ideally, Ohio HB 450 will pass and it could be an important source of funds to support community solar projects.

Kent’s council can start by approving the installation of solar panels on the new city hall. It would be the first major step to showing the citizens and businesses of Kent that it is an influential model for achieving the goals of the climate action plan.

I am serving as the chair of the solar committee of the UU Church in Kent, and it has raised the money from members to install solar panels on the church’s new addition, Hobbs Hall. The contract has been signed and Hobbs will be solarized with 90+ panels this June. We are very pleased to be a model for other churches in the area. Why can’t Kent show it will be a model to its citizens, businesses and other communities by installing solar cells on the new city hall to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Bill Wilen, Kent

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