Energy Efficiency and Demand Reduction
Each year, Bay Area consumers pay millions of dollars in surcharges to PG&E to run energy efficiency programs, which regularly fail to meet performance goals. Meanwhile, cities and counties lack funding to implement innovative approaches to energy efficiency and clean energy job creation. We believe that energy efficiency should be taken out of the hands of the utilities, and new programs be developed that meet the needs of low income communities to conserve energy and lower utility bills. We advocate for policies that promote energy efficiency upgrade programs, broad-based and affordable financing mechanisms, and pathways for local residents into clean energy jobs.
Local Renewable Power
California needs to ramp up decentralized renewable energy generation. We can harness this opportunity to create jobs in the Bay Area by installing local renewable power in or near cities where the demand is concentrated. The alternatives aren’t pretty: continuing economic decline in urban communities, endless delays of renewable projects due to controversies over desert ecosystems and transmission lines, and even more fossil fuel power plants.
We’re advocating for the California Public Utilities Commission to favor local decentralized power for California’s energy future. We advocate for policies, such as feed-in tariffs, which promote community-scale energy generation, and for programs that provide energy financing and ownership for low-income communities. To learn more, check out our report Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California.
Energy Democracy: Community Choice Energy
Despite the defeat of PG&E’s Power Grab Prop 16 in June 2010, Community Choice initiatives—provided for by AB 117 (2002) still face an uphill battle against the utility. Community Choice gives communities the power to procure electricity, while the existing investor-owned electric utility delivers and services the electricity for customers. Community Choice energy is a powerful vehicle for the development of local, democratically controlled, renewable energy resources that meet community needs.
While each Community Choice initiative is local in nature, broad regional coordination and support can be decisive to the success of each effort. We’re working to build a Bay Area wide political base for defending and expanding local Community Choice initiatives that emphasize the development of local renewable energy resources. A key goal is to win Community Choice programs in San Francisco, Sonoma County, and the East Bay that will build new local renewable resources, provide economic development, and create clean energy jobs for the city.