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The Green Life: Trees vs. Solar

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July 23, 2008

Trees vs. Solar

Redwoods_istock_000005499705xsmal_2Trees scored the latest victory in a years-long feud between Silicon Valley neighbors. On Tuesday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that allows trees to shade solar panels without penalty, as long as the trees were planted before the panels were installed. The bill was created in reaction to a December court ruling that Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett had violated the "Solar Shade Control Act" by refusing to cut or trim the redwood trees that were shading the solar panels their neighbor, Mark Vargas, had installed on his roof and on a backyard trellis.

Feeling torn between two green choices? Go ahead and support both sides, like State Senator Joe Simitian, who said, "I was frustrated by the tone of the debate at the outset--that it was somehow about trees versus solar. I thought it should be about trees and solar."

Shade Trees cut heating and cooling bills, reduce CO2 emissions, and decrease storm runoff. If you live in California, you can get a free tree through the Cool Communities Shade Tree Program. Free Trees and Plants, based in Nebraska, delivers salvaged nursery trees and plants for the price of shipping.

Solar panels create clean energy and reduce reliance on dirtier energy sources, such as coal-fired power plants. Find out how you can get a tax credit for solar water heaters and solar panels installed between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008.

Sources:  Mercury News, The New York Times, Grist, EPA, Energy Star

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