Tuesday, December 13, 2005

California's Going for Solar: BIG TIME!

Photo Credit: Dwell magazine website. The architects designed cool, industrial looking panels that go across the roof and down one wall like a vertical awning.
Hello Future SolarDweller:

I've been involved with moving from one apartment to another here in beautiful Berkeley, and between boxes, trying to keep current with my faithful solardweller readers!! Pardon my dust and recent absence!

Just in case you missed it, this past Summer in California, a very ambitious solar incentive program proposal, in the form of CA senate bill 1, the Million Solar Roofs Bill, went down to defeat. It had TREMENDOUS public support, evidenced by polls showing up to 75% of Californians in favor of using more solar energy, but got messed up during the heated run-up to Gov. Schwarzenneger's special election. The Guv was a huge supporter, but the Democrats, even though THEY themselves were in favor at first, didn't want to give him the satisfaction of a "victory" if they passed the bill. Basically, partisan politics that always results in nothing getting done in the end. I hate these cynical, political strategies! Nothing good gets done for 'the people'!!!

To wit, the Public Utilities Commission just announced a plan to finance a 10-year rebate incentive program for solar on new and existing structures. In effect, a funding plan similar to the defeated bill mentioned above, without all the PARTISAN gamesmanship!!! See the article excerpted below, which says the PUC should vote on this proposal in early January '06.

CPUC Releases Long-term Solar Energy Plan for California
by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com

Los Angeles, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com; UPDATE: 9:34 p.m. EST] The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released a major proposal that will effectively act as a replacement for the ill-fated SB1, or Million Solar Roofs Initiative. And like the SB-1 bill it supplants, the CPUC plan, called the California Solar Initiative (CSI), will be the largest solar energy bill in U.S. history.

According to solar industry sources and the draft plan released by the CPUC, the plan will be noteworthy in a few major ways: it will establish an 11-year solar rebate program running from 2006 through the end of 2016 for new and retrofit installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It will also provide substantial funding of $3.2 billion with $2.8 billion of that coming from the CPUC and $400 million coming from the CEC.
"What the PUC is doing is really producing the most important piece of the puzzle: the incentive dollars and the long-term policy, those elements are most important," Hochschild said. "The bottom line is that about three billion dollars over ten years will be the biggest solar incentive in the country and second biggest in the world behind Germany."

Both Del Chiaro and Hochschild said the Governor's support has provided a tremendous level of public support. They each cited numbers between 45,000 and 50,000 of people who have written to the PUC in support of a major solar program.

"It has broken the record on any issue the PUC has received on any issue including the energy crisis," Hochschild said. "We're finally seeing the popularity of solar translate into real dollars."

This broad, PUBLIC support for solar is what we need. It becomes a mandate from this "public" in California saying: "WE WANT GREENER, SUSTAINABLE sources of energy!" IT is possible, desirable, for the government to set and support a policy direction, with money behind it, especially if "green energy" is something Californians want for the future!!!

(We shall leave the issue of what to some people is a dirty word until a future post: subsidies--for solar. Hint: Libertarian says, using a gruff tone: "Solar subsidies are really bad for the "free market!!" And the Forward Thinker's cagey, sarcastic response: "Please, Mr. Libertarian. Now our government doesn't subsidize oil or nuclear or anything that might emit a few carbon molecules into the atmosphere--e-hem, like, the Hummmer SUV, or does it???!!!)

Until later,
Your future SolarDweller

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