LETTER TO THE EDITOR: USC should invest in solar energy

As Trojans, we strive to be the best. USC is universally known as a world-renowned research institution, but in one area it has fallen behind. While universities like Stanford and the UC system have made major investments in solar energy, USC has yet to take action. In 2010, the USC Board of Trustees approved a campus sustainability resolution calling for “an active energy conservation program,” including “…maximiz[ing] the purchase of electric energy from renewable resources.”

Despite this commitment, a current budget of $3.9 billion and 292 sunny days per year, solar panels are nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Occidental, another private college located in L.A., has installed solar despite having fewer financial resources. In 2014, the UC system made the largest commitment to solar of any educational institution in the country despite major budget cuts. Multiple California State University campuses and community colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District have also taken this important step. This shows that all USC is lacking is the will to take action.

Were USC to install solar panels, it would only take about .005 percent of USC’s budget to produce 10 percent of our energy from them. Even this upfront cost can be reduced by a number of programs, such as solar leases. Solar leasing would allow for immediate benefits. With leasing, the panels are installed for essentially no upfront cost and USC pays a reduced rate for the electricity produced. This would reduce our annual carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 30 million pounds per year. With climate change continuing unabated, the time for action is now.

This action would signal that USC is ready to make our campus sustainable, something that is long overdue. Solar energy would reduce our impact on the environment and show that we are serious about our commitments as a university. It is time for USC to begin leading in sustainability rather than falling behind. There are challenges that need to be overcome, but as Trojans we should not look at a challenge and leave it to someone else to solve.

We, the Environmental Affairs Organization, have been working with USC administration and solar professionals to craft a business proposal that would allow the school to install solar with minimal cost. This plan will soon be ready, and we are entering a crucial stage of our campaign where we prepare to present these plans to USC’s leadership. We are building support among all parts of the USC community to make upper administration take us seriously.

Student support for solar is absolutely essential for this campaign to be successful. Only when the USC community unites around this issue can we create the will for action. We need your support to make this happen! It’s as easy as liking our Facebook page (USC Go Solar Campaign) and signing our petition. If you want to get more involved, please attend our meetings on Thursdays at 5 p.m. in VKC 211 and help us to move forward together. Fight on and go solar!

Alex Vermie

Senior, environmental studies

Kestrel Grevatt

Freshman, aerospace engineering

Monica Finnstrom

Freshman, environmental studies and health