SWITCH –Off This Movie!

It is very important in the overwhelming avalanche of news and documentary sources that we receive on energy issues that we carefully scrutinize the sources of that information before we let them guide our thinking.

The case of the film, Switch is a prime example of this.

Switch is subtle and effective fossil-fuel industry propaganda. It pretends to support clean energy while subtly shifting the viewer's attention away from truly renewable strategies to accepting that fossil fuels, biofuels, nuclear, and other harmful sources will inevitably play a role in fulfilling future energy needs. In reality, the movie serves to slow down the transition to clean energy solutions and perpetuate fossil-fuel industry profits as long as possible.

Net metering: A net positive for California

As Susannah Churchill of Vote Solar explains, net metering “allows customers who install solar or other clean energy to get fair credit on their power bills for the energy they feed back to the grid.” The question, though, is what constitutes “fair credit,” and whether net metering customers are passing on to other customers an unfair burden of utility transmission and distribution charges.

This question was the main topic at the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s well-attended April 24 program on how California values solar PV.

FiT for California?

At the March meeting of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, Ted Ko from the Clean Coalition (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) discussed barriers to the development of distributed electricity generation in California and other programs advocated by the Clean Coalition.

An energy future for California that is based on small-scale, local renewable energy generation could speed the transition to clean energy. Additional benefits include creating jobs and boosting the economy, providing stable utility rates and resilient sources of energy. Recognizing these benefits, Governor Brown called for the development of 12,000 megawatts of local renewable generation by 2020.

Yet progress has been slow at the state level. Where’s the hold up?

California? No Fracking Way!!

The extraction and burning of California's Monterrey/Santos oil shale deposit would set back by 80 years the targeted reduction of carbon dioxide under the state's Global Warming Solutions Act.*

This was but one of many revelations provided on February 26, 2013 by leaders of the growing opposition to fracking in California. With up to 15 billion barrels of oil estimated to be in California’s Monterey/Santos shale formation, fracking--the latest and most environmentally destructive oil extraction technology--is set to boom in our state.

* See Doing the Math....

Organizations Call on Brown to Oppose Fossil-Fuel Power Plants

The Local Clean Energy Alliance and twenty-six other organizations throughout California have signed on to a letter urging Governor Brown to oppose California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) recent approval of the Oakley gas-fired power plant in Contra Costa County, and stop the pending approval of other fossil fuel-based power plants in southern California.

These projects frustrate attempts to curb greenhouse gas production in California and undercut California’s ambitious renewable energy goals; goals that have been championed by Governor Brown.

East Bay MUD Abandons Exploration of Community Choice Energy

At its much-anticipated board meeting on Tuesday, December 11, East Bay MUD’s Board of Directors disappointed clean energy advocates by voting to discontinue further exploration of an East Bay Community Choice energy program. The decision came despite evident community backing for the agency to take leadership in establishing a Community Choice program.

Much of that community support was mobilized through the efforts of the Clean Energy and Jobs Oakland campaign, which will continue its efforts to establish Community Choice in the East Bay despite the vote. The campaign has been reaching out since July to Oakland community organizations and businesses, and to city council candidates and incumbent members regarding the benefits that could come from a Community Choice program. Representatives from many of these groups appeared and spoke at the Board meeting or wrote letters to the East Bay MUD directors in favor of moving forward with Community Choice.

November General Meeting –Greg Pahl on Community Power

The November general meeting of the Local Clean Energy Alliance featured Greg Pahl, author of Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects. Greg has written numerous books and articles on energy and has been involved in environmental issues for over 30 years.

Greg gave an engaging presentation on local clean energy projects to an audience of 25 people. He emphasized the need for community involvement, given that the government is not doing enough to respond to climate change. And he noted that communities are a natural fit for these projects, because unlike corporations, whose goal is profit, communities are motivated by serving the public good.

Mobile Solar to the Rescue - You Can Help!

Over a month after Super Storm Sandy, there are still parts of the East Coast that are without power. Luckily, a mobile, solar- powered generator, the Mojave-3, has been assisting rescue efforts in some of the hardest hit areas in the Rockaways, NY and Sandy Hook, NJ. The mobile solar array needs no hook up to the grid, can generate 4 kW with 100kW battery capacity and a back-up diesel-powered generator. So far it has provided electricity for a Greenpeace hot food kitchen, a medical clinic, a ranger station, and a charging station for cellphones, flashlights, and other critical equipment.

Project ME4, a member organization of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, whose mission is developing mobile energy for emergency, education and enterprise, has started a crowd-sourcing campaign at Indiegogo to raise funds to keep the Mojave-3 unit operating. If enough funds are collected, they will ba able to add a second solar-powered unit to the relief efforts.

Victory for Clean Power in San Francisco!

On September 18th San Francisco took a huge step in meeting its climate action goals! The Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to approve CleanPowerSF, San Francisco's version of Community Choice Energy. The Local Clean Energy Alliance and allies have spent years shaping the program and organizing the support to move it forward.

"This vote is a big victory in the 10-year effort to bring Community Choice Energy to San Francisco," stated Al Weinrub, Coordinator of the Local Clean Energy Alliance. "It's a crucial step in transitioning off fossil fuels in a way that provides economic opportunity and clean energy jobs."

Local Clean Energy Alliance Organizes Veto Effort in Response to Passage of AB 976

***UPDATE*** Veto Effort Succeeds !

On September 27, 2012, Governor Brown decided to return AB 976 without his signature. He noted in his letter to members of the Assembly that AB976 is not necessary to protect against conflict of interest and would impede development of community choice programs. Thanks to all who helped make this veto effort successful.

At the end of August, shortly after passage of AB 976 in the California legislature, the Local Clean Energy Alliance rallied 15 organizations to urge Governor Brown to veto the bill.

AB 976, the stealth anti-Community Choice energy bill, would undermine new Community Choice energy programs like the ones we are working to establish in San Francisco, Sonoma, and the East Bay. In response to the bill's passage, the Local Clean Energy Alliance drafted a letter urging Governor Brown to veto the legislation, and the Alliance reached out to other organizations to sign on to that effort. The Alliance is now calling on all individuals, as well, to contact the governor and ask him to veto AB 976.


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