The growth of alternative energy is accelerating. Here and there across Orange County, photovoltaic systems are being installed, solar water heaters are appearing on rooftops, and geothermal systems are on the rise. A large solar electric generating system will soon be installed on White Cross Rd.

As the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling said, “The future is here. It just isn’t very well distributed yet.”

Local builder and environmentalist Tom O’Dwyer, who serves on the County’s Commission on the Environment, proposed that future developments be required to set aside suitable space for future solar installations. This evolved into a broader proposal to consider how the County might encourage all forms of alternative energy, as well as energy efficiency.

This idea is percolating through the County’s often tortoise-like staff and committee structure. It really needs a jump-start from the County Commissioners. A task force should be formed asap to consider the many issues and policy questions surrounding how we will incorporate and encourage local sustainable energy production and energy efficiency strategies.

If we make the right decisions and pro-actively address these issues, we can make Orange County a model of sustainable energy practices, boost economic activity, and become more resilient in a future which is likely to be more unpredictable than ever.