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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Going solar is the best way for California to reduce its wildfire risk

Power lines near the Camp Fire point of origin
Power transmission lines crest a hilltop above Camp Creek Road, the point of origin of the Camp fire, in Pulga, Calif., on Nov. 11, 2018.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

To the editor: The penultimate paragraph of the first editorial in your series on reducing the danger posed by wildfires in California contained the real solution to this problem: It would be a great idea for all schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, offices and private homes to have their own solar and wind energy systems installed.

The goal is not only to have electricity when Southern California Edison or the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. shuts off their poorly maintained power lines, but also so we can finally be rid of this antiquated and outdated central power system.

President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in the 1970s; his successor, Ronald Reagan, took them off, preferring dirty fossil-fuel energy over clean, renewable power sources that could create jobs long into the future. Germany, a cold, cloudy country for much of the year, is a leading nation on renewable energy; solar panels and wind-driven generators are on just about every farmhouse rooftop and urban home.

This isn’t the future; it is now. We made the switch to smartphones and no longer rely on landlines for voice communication. I cannot imagine why, then, landline electricity is how we still provide electricity when it costs us billions of dollars in wildfire destruction. It is so last century.

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Judith F. Helle, Los Angeles

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To the editor: What needs to be addressed is the stress that solar panels can place on our power grid.

I don’t know if people actually realize that the power generated from the solar panels on their rooftop goes up into the grid if it is not used at the point of origin. There have been times when our grid has been so full of electricity that we have paid other states to take it from us.

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It would be interesting to see if increased use of home solar systems could put enough stress on the grid actually to increase wildfire danger.

Kellie Krager, West Covina

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To the editor: The L.A. Times Editorial Board is talking common sense when it says that seriously grappling with the California fire crisis involves stopping the insane expansion of houses into areas that we know will burn. Unfortunately, yours is a lonely voice.

A bill authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) purports to address this issue but may well make the situation worse. The standards Senate Bill 182 sets for supposedly fire-safe development differ little from what is already being done today, yet we know that houses built to new construction codes burn anyway and that evacuation plans and warning systems repeatedly fail.

More than anything else, the bill reflects the Legislature’s impotence against local governments that want to retain an absolute right to approve whatever strikes their fancy, even if it is dangerous. This situation needs to end.

Dan Silver, Los Angeles

The writer is chief executive of the Endangered Habitats League

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To the editor: Your editorials on wildfires say nothing new. They accept Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approach that regards us as helpless against an uncontrollable environment.

The word “prevention” is not to be found in any of your editorials. We put a man on the moon, and we can prevent wildfires.

Perhaps in future editorial you will suggest ways to stop wildfires before they begin.

Philip Springer, Pacific Palisades


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