Solar Energy: An Analysis of the Political Feasibility of Implementing Residential Space and Water Heating Systems on a Majority of Homes in California

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Political science, solar, energy, economics, California, utilities


Economics | Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Today in California, solar residential space and water heating systems are viable sources of energy. Solar energy is cost-effective and decentralized. Increased usage of this environmentally benign form of energy will create jobs and increase conservation of non-renewable political, not technical. Federal inaction, government subsidies of fossil fuels, monopolies, utility companies, and the lack of public awareness, all work against the expansion of solar energy usage. The impact of these barriers can be seen through an analysis of the California 1978 Solarcal legislative package. This analysis explains how the original bills were amended and/or killed. Big businesses and utility companies were the beneficiaries to the majority of these legislative changes. Interpreting the outcome of the Solarcal package is possible through two theories of political action: a "practical politics" approach and Murray Edelman's symbolic politics approach. This interpretation helps to explain why the solar advocates seemed to be quieted and satisfied with the result of the weakened Solarcal package. This quiescence along with the existing barriers will prevent the implementation of solar residential space and water heating systems on a majority of homes in California in the near future. Nevertheless, through additional state and federal action, usage of solar energy can increase in the long-term future. Widespread usage of solar energy could potentially result in a small scale adaptation of the values of alternative technology along with a small degree of social change.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Political Science

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