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Power by the People! Cities to Generate Local Renewable Energy

Kirsten Schwind and Ingrid Severson, WorldChanging
You say you want an energy revolution? With our nation’s growing awakening to climate change and fossil fuel depletion, the debate over our energy future is taking off. The critical subtext is, who will control the energy of the future?

Under California’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, communities can literally take power into their own hands by generating their own electricity. Under the 2002 California law AB117, CCA permits any city or county to facilitate the purchase and sale of electrical energy to its constituents by pooling their demand.

CCA enables communities to assume greater control over energy pricing and invest in higher percentages of renewable energy. In cities with private energy utilities, those companies continue to provide all metering, billing, collection, and customer service to participating CCA customers, but would allow local governments to choose the energy sources and producers that provide electricity to their constituents.

…Bay Area cities are rising to the challenge. San Francisco recently filed its own CCA plan to generate 51% of its electricity from renewables by 2017. The city’s plan calls for 31 megawatts of solar panels on hundreds of large warehouse-scale rooftops, 72 megawatts of fuel cells and other distributed generation, 107 megawatts of technologies at hundreds of sites that reduce or eliminate power demand, and 150 megawatts of new wind turbines, some potentially within city limits.

[The authors are members of Bay Localize, which] catalyzes the shift from a globalized, fossil fuel-based economy that enriches a few and weakens most, to a localized green economy that strengthens all Bay Area communities.
(21 April 2007)

Fossil Free by ’33
(Audio and video)
Janaia Donaldson, Peak Moment via Global Public Media
PM56_120.jpg Tam Hunt outlines a strategy for regional independence from fossil fuels — and it centers around electricity. Start with efficiency & conservation, add renewables to replace fossil fuels for electricity, then add more renewables to electrify transportation such as plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. The result? A program “to save America’s Environment and Economy one region at a time.” Episode 56.

Janaia Donaldson hosts Peak Moment, a television series emphasizing positive responses to energy decline and climate change through local community action. How can we thrive, build stronger communities, and help one another in the transition from a fossil fuel-based lifestyle?
(13 April 2007)
See original for access to audio and video.

Embrace efficiency, one watt at a time, as nation’s ‘fifth fuel’

U.S. Sen Mark Pryor and Jim Rogers, Cincinnati Enquirer
By the year 2030, demand for electricity in the United States is expected to grow by approximately 40 percent, according to U.S. Department of Energy forecasts. To meet that need, plans to develop new nuclear and advanced cleaner-coal power plants and to retire older, less efficient coal plants, are under way at utilities throughout the nation.

But there is another path that can help us achieve our country’s goal of reliable, affordable and clean energy for all – energy efficiency. As the “fifth fuel,” it can be as useful in meeting our growing energy needs as are the traditional generation sources of coal, nuclear, natural gas or renewable energy.

Ensuring that saving energy is as important a “fuel” as generating power will mean a reinvention of the traditional utility. “Save-a-watts,” unlike kilowatts, can only be envisioned as a fuel if we are committed to change.

…In the year 2000, the National Academy of Engineering chose the electrification of America and the developed world as the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century – ahead of air and space flight, television, the computer and the Internet.

We believe that turning the electric grid into a vast communications and energy efficiency network – one that can create save-a-watts – could very well be one of the greatest advancements of the 21st century.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is a Democrat from Arkansas. Jim Rogers is president and CEO of Duke Energy. They are co-chairs of the Alliance to Save Energy.
(22 April 2007)
Reader GD writes:
Mainstream media coverage of the need for increased energy efficiency before building new power plants