A Renewable Energy 'blogumentary': Part 3 of 6:Federal/National energy initiatives

Yesterday, we talked about how local politics can create a change in the way our cities and even states use energy, so much so, that we can change the policy of the utility companies themselves. AnotherMassachusettsLiberal commented on an interesting program in his community,called 'Green Start' and described it like this :

I pay extra to get renewably generated electricity, and the extra money I pay comes back, doubled, to my town in the form of grants for renewable energy projects. 32 total households in town are in the program, and there's currently almost $8,000 in the account.

Ideas like this are making ripples across the nation and making change, which is inspiring. However, as you will see in this interview with Ron Lehr of the American Wind Energy Association or AWEA, there has got to be some movement on the National level by the Federal Government, if we are really going to embrace the change necessary to move our country forward quickly.
Here is the interview:

Part 3: Federal/National energy intitiatives

(at 4:15 in the video)

If you put a 'V' on the country with the bottom of the V at Texas, all those plains states have enormous wind resources. If we can get transmission lines to the coast where the people live, we could put our entire auto fleet on wind generated electricity through these plug in hybrids.

Question - why isn't this happening?
A- People think "well, why doesn't the market just take care of this?"We don't have a free market in the energy sector. There is no aspect in energy that is near a free market.
We subsidize the oil, coil and gas industry through our tax dollars. The nuclear industry is subsidized by the
Price-Anderson Act (which subsidizes all clean up costs over $900 million dollars) without which the Nuclear industry could not insure itself and therefore, could not exist, so that is clearly a tax subsidy.
(the only challenge to the Price Anderson Act was in my home state of NC, which went before the Supreme court and lost in the Duke Power vs. Environmental Study Group decision.)

In 1992, the Congress approved a subsidy for wind and other renewable energy, the Production Tax Credit, which equalizes the tax incentives that other energy industries get. Since then, the Production Tax Credit has gone out of existence 3 times. All of the other subsidies for the fossil industries are fixed in the tax code, they are all permanent. They must think we are stupid in Washington. We've got permanent subsidies for the things we don't want, and inconsistent subsidies for the things we do want.
They need to hear from people about this. One way is to go to AWEA.org, and get on the action alert to fix this Production Tax Credit situation.

Indeed, the 'free market' has been controlled for the past 100 years through an oligarchy of a few companies all interconnected between oil, coal, gas, and of course, automobiles. These companies have gotten legislation for their tax subsidies from us, while stifling subsidies for renewable energy.
We are now paying $4 a gallon, while the oil industry is still getting subsidized.
Imagine, if our government was subsidizing Wind or Solar the way other governments are. For instance, it has been China, that is leading the way with their brand new MAGLEV Windmill Technology which actually uses wind power to generate a magnetic field to run the windmill blades with no moving machinery, or ball bearings, just a suspended magnetic field supporting the turbine.

We need to go in a new direction to compete and to save the planet. It is true that the World's economy is shifting to renewables, and despite the 'smart people' saying it is a world that is going to be about getting control of the oil, I believe that the revitalization of America's job sector and restoring the middle class will be putting people to work in building electric light rails, solar panel factories and windmill factories. We can be the leader and put our eonconomy back on track:

This concludes Part 3.
Part 4: Renewing the economy through Renewable energy


Part 2: Local Energy Initiatives: This will cover some of the ways citizens have gotten involved in passing laws to change their options for energy use, effectively giving a level playing field fo renewable energy. Now, although this post seems to be Colorado focused, the fact is, in part due to the location of the National Renewable Energy lab in Golden,Colorado combined with an active progressive community, Colorado has been leading the nation in embracing renewable energy. Here to tell us more about this and the Clean Energy Progress Fund - an initiative to be voted on this fall in Colorado, is Professor Thomas McKinnon, a Chemical Engineer,who has worked both with the NREL and with the School of Mines and now heads up the drive to support the Clean Energy Progress Fund.

Part 2: local energy initiatives

"we have cost effective solutions"

Question - Tell us, Professor McKinnon, what is the Clean Energy Progress Fund?
A - The Clean Energy Progress Fund is a way to support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and promote carbon sequestration in agricultural soils and forests. It is a triple win, it will help us with our economy, with our energy security, and will strengthen our environment.
We really need to have a more secure energy source and the Clean Energy Progress Fund will promote solar power, especially Concentrating Solar Power, which focuses the sun through mirrors on a trough, like the one in Las Vegas, which generates 64 megawatts.
Through Concentrating Solar Power, we could easily generate all the electricity for Colorado, just in the San Luis Valley, and at a cost that is competitive with a coal powered plant.
Many of the things we are proposing,the only way for them to happen is for the government to get involved.

For Transmission lines and other upgrades, that is where the Clean Energy Progress Fund would provide money from the people.
We are also helping to create community action. For instance in Boulder, (first city in the U.S. to pass a carbon tax in November 2004) we have communities that are getting together to talk about how to save energy and the environment. Because we can see changes in the environment, and there are dangers, increased droughts, wildfires, new problems like beetle infestations, and so on. Global warming is a global issue, so Colorado could eliminate our heat trapping emissions to zero and there would still be an issue, but collectively through this Clean Energy Progress Fund, Colorado can be a leader, passing the first of bill of this kind nationally.

People all around the country should get involved in this bill. Just like in 2006,
when Colorado passed the first law of its kind, the first time in the Nation's history that a renewable energy portfolio standard was put directly before voters rather than processed through a state's legislature
there are the naysayers that say we can't do things like this. In that campaign, the 'smart people' said it would be impossible to make Xcel energy and other large utilities to commit to making at least 3% of their energy portfolio renewable energy by 2007 and 10% by 2015. Not only were they wrong, but Xcel reached 6% by 2007, and now leads the country in renewable energy.
That makes ripples, that will effect everyone, and will put pressure on the other Utilities to follow suit.

Clean Energy Progress Fund will take Colorado and the Nation to the next step by raising 200 million through this fall's ballot, for renewable energy in Colorado, and as an example for the Nation.
They need your help to change our future. Get involved.
Go to www.cleanenergyprogress.org and get involved, contribute and help (and tell Professor Thomas McKinnon where you heard of them) because this issue, and global warming, can't wait.

This concludes Part 2.
tomorrow, Part 3:Federal/National Energy Initiatives


Part 1 No New Drilling
There has been a lot of talk from both Bush and McCain about the necessity for the Congress to start permitting new drilling sites for Oil companies in the face of high oil prices, as seen in this video
from the BBC, even though there is plenty of evidence that the real reason for the high prices are the insiders and speculators that Randi Rhodes first documented this week.
Followed by KO's investigation:

If these revelations of inflated fuel prices anger you, then I hope you won't be fooled by the rhetoric to
drill, drill, drill.

Part 1 of 6: No new drilling: we have 25 times the renewable energy needed to run our country.

That's right, while we are debating how much to drill, where to drill and if we should drill ANWR, we are sitting on untapped energy sources: in this case, solar and wind.

First up: Coal, fossil fuels, and the untapped abundance...

Nancy LaPlaca from Energy Justice:

Coal has the same CO2 emission rate as the entire transportation sector. Coal emits 40% of all CO2, 2/3rds of all sulfur dioxide, 1/3rd of all mercury.

These fossil fuels have hidden costs in terms of CO2. Now fossil fuels like oil and natural gas are escalating at a rate of 15% a year. The exciting thing about renewable energy like wind and solar is that when we look at their costs in 2020, we don't have to think about what they will cost.

Costs of energy are felt by us in many ways, whether it is at the pump, or heating your house in the winter or the electricity to run your business. Each of our states uses the 'basket of energy' approaches, which as of now, is usually a basket of fossil fuels, like natural gas or oil or coal. These fossil fuels fill up the 'grid' for electricity for the nation, state by state, region by region, and grid by grid. Grid by grid, you say? Yes, the country is broken down into grids (more on that later) and each state has a grid capacity (remember Enron and California's grid fiasco that ultimately caused Gray Davis to be recalled.
But that is another scandal...
Colorado,for instance, uses a grid of 12 gigawatts of electricity. That is like needing to plan a trip for the summer and you know that you will always need 12 gallons of gas. So in peak moments in the hot of the summer sun or coldest of winter nights, the full capacity of 12 gigawatts is being supplied by oil, natural gas and oil. The trick is, what if we had a more plentiful source that was cheaper and had no harming effects to the earth. What if you knew that just in Colorado alone
there is enough energy to run the entire state and many others as well, over 296 gigawatts of electricity from wind and solar resources. With other states in the west participating, we could achieve total energy independence for the entire nation. We could haved a completely electric automobile and transportation sector. Listen to this...

Leslie Glustrom from Clean Energy:
Just in Colorado alone, we have:

In Colorado, Colorado has 96 gigawatts of wind energy.
In terms of Solar energy, Colorado has 200 gigawatts of energy.
(me) enough to power the Midwest...?
Yes more than enough. We have to give credit to Xcel who has made great gains to become a leader among utility companies.

Nancy LaPlaca

Leslie Glustrom

For students and their teachers who want to get involved in renewable energy:

This first part is just to show you what is already here and waiting. There is no need to drill. none. whatsoever. It is time for our leaders to stop denying science and bowing to big oil pressures and embrace the future.
This concludes part 1.



"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Henry David Thoreau