Monday, November 12, 2007

Energy: the Steps Beyond Protest.

I have been somewhat critical of efforts like Step It Up when they seem to stop at protest organizing and are not prepared to move beyond that. It was a timely comment because the opportunity for Greens to begin making their impact felt on issues of energy and the building sector is right now.
On October 18, 2007, CPUC Commissioners adopted a groundbreaking decision mandating California’s investor owned utilities (IOUs), working in collaboration with publicly-owned utilities, state agencies, and other stakeholders to prepare a single, statewide energy efficiency Strategic Plan for the period 2009-2020.
Initial meetings took place last week. There are more Working Group meetings scheduled for this week (Nov, 14-16).

The goals of this effort sound reasonable.
This plan is to:

  • address all end use sectors for gas and electricity – residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural;
  • give special attention to several ambitious long-range Big Bold Programmatic Initiatives with specific suggested performance targets;
  • indicate how these plans will better integrate delivery to customers of the full range of demand side management (DSM) options (energy efficiency, distributed generation and solar, and demand response); and
  • ensure effective use of and support for funds for marketing, outreach, training and education.
Based on past history, I trust neither the CPUC nor the Investor Owned Utilities. In fact, I would not even trust Co-Op Electrical Districts to act on any basis other than generating as much electricity as possible with as little capital investment as possible. In other words, to hell with the future if I can keep today's rates as low as possible.

The CPUC has divided the work into five interest areas, each with a working group to develop a draft plan by February 1, 2008. Those interest areas are: Residential, Commercial, HVAC, Industry and Agriculture. Each represents a significant sector of the US Economy. Building Operations (Residential, Commercial, HVAC) account for 40% of total energy use, far more than the 27% used by transportation. The agricultural sector is interesting as it potentially could produce as much energy as it consumes, and I am not reverencing screwy ideas like ethanol from corn.

The GPCA should put a priority on reviving the Green Issues Working Group, or at least those whose focus was Energy, and begin to exert as much pressure as possible on this effort in order to make sure that we end up with a Capital "G" Green outcome.

This is where we start to put our intellects to work. Now that Step It Up has provided some motivation, we need to go beyond the rally and to start delivering results.

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