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'Property Brother' Jonathan Scott explores solar power controversy

'Property Brother' Jonathan Scott explores solar power controversy
"Jonathan Scott's Power Trip" began when Scott installed solar panels on his own home. Photo courtesy of Scott Brothers Entertainment

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- On the HGTV series Property Brothers, Jonathan Scott renovates people's homes with his twin brother, Drew Scott. His own home renovation project led him to make the documentary, Jonathan Scott's Power Trip, in which he explores controversies surrounding solar energy.

"If something just smells wrong, I'm the person who just won't let it go," Jonathan Scott told UPI in a recent phone interview.

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After installing solar panels on the roof of his Las Vegas home in 2015, Jonathan Scott found out that he would not receive credit for powering his own home. The Nevada Public Utility Commission phased out net metering, the process by which homeowners receive a credit for power they generate.

He began filming Power Trip while still in production on Property Brothers, and the building competition series Brother vs Brother. Jonathan Scott said he would conduct interviews for the documentary on his days off from television production.

"It was a passion project and it was a hell of a lot of work," he said.

Drew Scott executive produced Power Trip with him, but agreed that the film should portray Jonathan Scott's individual journey through the energy industry.

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The deeper Jonathan Scott delved into research, he learned that there are interests lobbying against solar energy. In Nevada, eliminating net metering allowed NV Energy to be the sole provider of power in the state.

In other states he visited, utility companies are incorporating solar and wind power. However, those utilities still do not want individual homeowners to have their own solar panels.

"They don't want other people to be able to produce their own energy," Jonathan Scott said.

He said he approached the solar energy issue in a similar way as he approaches construction issues on Property Brothers. He calls himself "the construction Columbo," referring to the way Peter Falk questioned suspects. By asking people who initially opposed solar energy to explain themselves, Jonathan Scott said he actually changed some minds.

"You could actually see people's opinions turning and their opinions changing once they heard it coming from themselves," Jonathan Scott said.

He had to take the Columbo approach in every state, as each state has different energy regulations. Power Trip advocates for a more unified energy policy.

"We should have one federal energy policy so that people can understand on a national level how they can embrace clean energy," Jonathan Scott said.

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Power Trip is not intended to be solely a pro-solar documentary. The film's ultimate goal is to inform people that they have more choices about power than utility companies afford them.

"People should have the choice to make the decisions that are best for them and for their families," Jonathan Scott said. "Right now, most people don't realize that their choice is being taken away."

The film acknowledges pros and cons of solar energy. Power Trip presents scientific evidence that solar energy is less harmful than coal to the environment and to people exposed to fossil fuels in their community.

However, he said, for many families, installing solar panels is cost prohibitive. If there is net metering in one's state, it can allow some homeowners to recoup their investment in solar panels.

"We need to find a way that it's accessible and affordable to everybody and not allow individual, very, very wealthy corporations to control who has access to it," Jonathan Scott said.

Power Trip also highlights the job opportunities in rooftop solar panels.

"There are more jobs created in rooftop solar than any other type of energy," Jonathan Scott said.

He intended Power Trip to begin a conversation about renewable energy. If viewers want to get involved, they can find more resources on Powertriptruth.com. The website includes more facts about solar power and ways to reach their legislators.

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"I want people just to be better informed and feel that they actually do have the ability now to take that next step and be heard," Jonathan Scott said.

The current season of Property Brothers remains in flux due to COVID-19 protocols. Renovations slowed during the pandemic, displacing families from their homes.

Jonathan Scott said construction continued during the pandemic, as it was deemed an essential service. However, renovators operated with smaller crews, and the pandemic affected their supply chain.

"We have almost all of our homeowners back in their homes," Jonathan Scott said. "[There were] severe delays on some projects and that's to be expected."

Filming has not completed on the latest season, and Jonathan Scott said they will not begin new renovation projects until it proves safe to resume construction and television production.

Jonathan Scott's Power Trip is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video-on-demand services.

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