Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Collaborative Roundtable on Energy Democracy

Are communities benefiting from the development of renewable energy in the US?   Is large scale, centralized renewable energy sustainable?  What is Energy Democracy and why is it important?  These and other topics are explored in this Spring of Sustainability collaborative roundtable on sustainable energy.

Al Weinrub, Coordinator of the Local Clean Energy Alliance in Oakland, CA and author of the groundbreaking Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California moderated this lively discussion between Ceal Smith (Renewable Communities Alliance/Solar Done Right), Woody Hastings (Climate Protection Campaign/Sonoma Clean Power) and Nicole Capretz (Environmental Health Coalition/California Environmental Justice Alliance).

Al Weinrub is Coordinator of the Local Clean Energy Alliance (LCEA), the Bay Area's largest clean energy coalition. The LCEA, which hosts an annual Clean Power, Healthy Communities conference, sees the development of local energy resources as key to growing sustainable business, advancing social equity, and promoting community resilience. Al authored the highly-acclaimed report Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California and has conducted energy policy briefings for a variety of organizations. He serves on the Sierra Club California Energy-Climate Committee and is a past national officer and member the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, AFL-CIO. He lives in Oakland.

Woody Hastings is an environmental policy analyst, strategic planner, and community organizer with over twenty-two years of experience in the non-profit, governmental, and private sectors. He has played key roles in the development of a variety of energy-related projects including an early solar/hydrogen technology demonstration project, a landfill gas-to-energy project, and the installation of nearly half a megawatt of solar power. Woody is a lifelong student of the natural environment and has a degree in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice from San Francisco State University and is a 2012 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. He helps lead the effort to advance renewable energy systems in Sonoma County for the Climate Protection Campaign as its Renewable Energy Implementation Manager.

Ceal Smith has worked as a field ecologist, researcher, environmental compliance expert, consultant and activist since the 1990’s. She founded the Renewable Communities Alliance in 2009 to advocate for Energy Democracy, community renewable energy alternatives to destructive energy development and grassroots solutions to climate change. In 2010 she helped found Solar Done Right, a coalition of public land activists, solar power and electrical engineering experts, biologists and others concerned with the rush to develop our few remaining wildlands for industrial solar and wind energy. Ceal also assists citizen groups working to protect their communities from destructive oil and gas drilling and fracking in Colorado.  She has an MSci in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and a BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Originally from Northern California, Ceal currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Nicole Capretz is Director of Green Energy, Green Jobs Campaign at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization working in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Nicole has a law degree from Vermont Law School, a Masters in Environmental Law, and has been active in social justice and politics for over 15 years. She is the Chair of the City of San Diego's Environmental and Economic Sustainability Task Force and is committed to help transition us off the fossil fuel economy.

The interview is part of the Spring of Sustainability global teleseries, where you can learn from some of the most potent speakers, teachers and leaders who share their sustainability expertise and wisdom on how to create a greener world. For more information, please visit http://springofsustainability.com.