Thursday, December 15, 2011

Call to Action for Energy Democracy

The San Luis Valley Renewable Communities Alliance is working closely with its partner Solar Done Right to invite organizations and people to join in a Call to Action for Energy Democracy.   

 This initiative will bring citizens across the Country together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move destructive industrial energy development away from our ecologically rich public lands and generate clean, renewable energy from our farms and ranches, rooftops, parking lots, commercial buildings and already-developed areas.   

 Join the Call to Action for Energy Democracy:

Organizations - sign on by emailing us here.

Individuals - sign the online petition here.   

Please help spread the word by sharing the Call to Action for Energy Democracy with friends, colleagues, community and grassroots groups you know—civic, social, education, sustainable economic development, municipal, charity, religious -- any!  Once we have a groundswell (and we will) it will go to top energy policymakers in our government: The Governors Office, State and Congressional Representatives, the White House, Departments of Interior and Energy and others.   To learn more about why our current renewable energy policy is on the wrong path and how we can do solar right, please visit, where you will find briefings on many aspects of this issue.                   
Thank you! 



We must take rapid, effective, innovative action to change the ways we generate and use energy; Renewable energy is ubiquitous, offering a new model of energy generation that is local, democratic, and free from the abuses of a centralized monopoly;

A new report by John Farrell, ILSR
The US government’s current renewable-energy policy and the policies of most US states push industrial solar and wind development onto public lands;

This industrial development is proposed for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of acres of our public lands—much of that acreage consisting of intact ecosystems which provide habitat for rare and endangered plants and animals, sequester carbon, and offer the chance for ecosystem adaptation to climate change;

The utility-scale solar and wind generating plants now proposed, most with footprints of several thousand acres, would transform these ecologically-rich, multiple-use lands to single use industrial facilities, in effect privatizing vast areas of public lands;

Once developed, those lands cannot be returned to their previous state after the life of a project– conversion is total and permanent, even though most such projects will generate power for only 15 to 30 years;

The thousands of miles of new transmission infrastructure necessary to carry power from remote solar and wind electric generating plants to urban demand centers drastically inflates the cost of renewable energy, while imposing its own serious environmental impacts;

The federal government has provided tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in cash grants, loans and loan guarantees for remote industrial-scale solar and wind development to many of the same corporations that have dominated the Fossil Fuel Era, created the problems renewable energy is designed to rectify, and helped hasten the recession, while states and local governments have incurred substantial costs to expedite these for-profit projects;

Efficiency upgrades and “distributed generation”—point-of-use energy generation on rooftops, in parking lots and highway medians, brownfields, and throughout the built environment—are cost-effective, efficient, clean, and democratic strategies that are quick to implement, and would serve communities, ratepayers, and taxpayers by improving local economies and adding to home values, and creating millions of local jobs;

Efficiency and distributed generation further have far less environmental impact than industrial scale solar or wind power on intact ecosystems, while making our electrical power grid far less prone to catastrophic failure;

Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) and true net metering programs, in which utilities purchase democratically produced, decentralized renewable energy at a fair price, have been proven a cost-effective way of stimulating rapid deployment of local solar and other distributed generation, while providing economic stimulus to communities rather than multinational corporations, even in cloudy countries like Germany;

The Environmental Protection Agency's “Re-Powering America’s Lands” program has identified 15 million acres of degraded or contaminated land potentially suitable for renewable energy development, and is committed to working with renewable energy developers to remediate these lands for use as utility-scale renewable energy generation sites where large projects may be desirable.

Therefore, we demand:

That the Federal and state governments abandon their current path of industrialization and destruction of our public lands;

That any large-scale solar or wind installations be restricted to degraded, contaminated, or already-developed lands, including those identified by the EPA;

That Federal, state, and local governments facilitate a massive deployment of efficiency upgrades and point-of-use solar power;

That no new large, long-distance electrical transmission projects be approved to serve remote solar or wind projects until distributed power generation and energy efficiency are maximized;

That the Federal Housing Finance Agency immediately lift its de facto freeze on property assessed clean energy (PACE) loans, which provide critical low-risk financing for efficiency upgrades and home energy retrofits;

That Federal and state funding and other incentives be made available to help states establish and expand generous Feed in Tariffs (FITs) modeled after successful programs like Germany’s, and improve net metering policies, and that Congress work to establish the proven solutions of German-style FITs and less-restrictive net metering at a national scale.

Organizations - sign on by emailing Solar Done Right here.

Individuals - sign the online petition here.   

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beyond Energy Independence: German renewables shoot through the roof, San Francisco reaches for new high

Old energy interests (including utilities) and their media and government supporters, often repeat the mantra that renewable energy, especially decentralized, on-site generation, can't be implemented widely or fast enough to meet our energy needs. 

Indeed, it's the only thing that can!  

Spurred by Germany's model Feed-in Tariff (FIT), this small, rural town in Bavaria is 100% energy independent and generates millions in local revenue by producing 3 times more energy than it uses. This could be any town in the San Luis Valley, the Front Range,  eastern Colorado, even your town!   

And today, as the Durban, South Africa climate talks come to a close with no binding agreement (as expected), San Francisco takes a bold step towards 100% renewable energy by 2020 - a new high for the US (story below)

German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs!

Ok, those Germans are just showing off now. Not only has the nation announced plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants and started the construction of 2,800 miles of transmission lines for its new renewable energy initiative, but now the village of Wildpoldsried is producing 321% more energy than it needs! The small agricultural village in the state of Bavaria is generating an impressive $5.7 million in annual revenue from renewable energy.

It’s no surprise that the country that has kicked butt at the Solar Decathlon competition (to produce energy positive solar houses) year after year is the home to such a productive energy-efficient village. The village’s green initiative first started in 1997 when the village council decided that it should build new industries, keep initiatives local, bring in new revenue, and create no debt. Over the past 14 years, the community has equipped nine new community buildings with solar panels, built four biogas digesters (with a fifth in construction now) and installed seven windmills with two more on the way. In the village itself, 190 private households have solar panels while the district also benefits from three small hydro power plants, ecological flood control, and a natural waste water system.

Despite only having a population of 2,600, Wildpoldsried produces 321 percent more energy than it needs. It is no surprise to learn that small businesses have developed in the village specifically to provide services to the renewable energy installations.

SF Begins Down 100% by 2020 Clean Energy Path

by Angeli Duffin, December 9th, 2011

By 2020, the city of San Francisco aims to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources – and it just got the green ball rolling by giving Local Power a $390,000 contract to design a plan for moving the city’s power sourcing from centralized fossil fuel plants and toward locally generated renewables.

San Francisco is pursuing its goal using a community choice aggregation system (CCA), which allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction to secure alternative energy supply contracts. Using CleanPowerSF, San Franciscans will be given a choice to purchase green energy from a city-negotiated provider as an alternative to the giant Northern California utility Pacific Gas & Electric.

To fulfill CleanPowerSF’s call for “neighborhood-scaled green power,” Local Power will produce request for proposals (RFPs) to deploy at least 210 megawatts of renewable, localized energy technologies and distributed solar for San Francisco residents and businesses by 2017. Local Power will spend the next year completing a cost model, implementation schedule, and analysis of potential development sites to complete the RFPs by late 2012.

San Francisco is not alone in its local energy initiative. Local Power founder Paul Penn drafted the country’s first community choice aggregation bill, which has since spurred similar CCA laws across the country. Community choice programs currently provide service to over 1 million Americans, with hundreds of U.S. cities in the planning and implementation phase, according to Local Power.

When all is said and done, Local Power believes this project “promises to make San Francisco the world leader in green power, substantially reducing greenhouse gas pollution, and making innovative green technologies the standard rather than the exception, and creating new local green jobs here in San Francisco – all while maintaining competitive power bills.”

Read the New York Times story on San Francisco's new energy goals here