Popular Republican Mayor Praises Community Choice Energy

By Tyson Siegele, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press

A staunch supporter of Community Choice Energy gave the keynote address at a March 10th forum organized by the Climate Action Campaign. Since clean, renewable energy is one of the main benefits of Community Choice Energy (CCE), you might think the speaker would be a long haired hippy prone to singing kumbaya. Not at all, not even close. The proud Republican Mayor of Lancaster, California, Rex Parris, provided an enthusiastic endorsement of CCE, lambasting the high prices of utility power and praising the savings gained through Community Choice.

Rex Parris and Clean Energy Innovation

Parris

Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris – Source: City of Lancaster

The people of Lancaster first elected Rex Parris in 2008. Since then he has been re-elected 3 times including in 2016 when he received 67% of the vote. One of the main ways he achieved such strong support was by turning Lancaster into a clean energy mecca. The biggest win in terms of jobs was bringing Build Your Dream (BYD) electric bus manufacturing to the city. BYD is an electric vehicle heavyweight. In 2016 it built more electric cars than any company in the world, and did so by a large margin. The Lancaster facility does not get as much press as Tesla, but it is ramping up activity in a similar fashion. Soon, in addition to buses, Lancaster will begin providing electric trash trucks and other heavy duty vehicles.

Electric vehicle manufacturing is just one piece of the pie in Lancaster. Parris was also instrumental in reducing permitting times for rooftop solar and introducing building codes requiring rooftop solar arrays. The city was the first in California to require rooftop solar on all new buildings. Better yet, Lancaster hopes to soon be able to announce that it has become a zero net energy community. That means it aims to produce more renewable energy within city limits than its total energy consumption, a goal it has been working toward since 2011. Accomplishing that has involved new and innovative building codes, creative public/private partnerships, and most importantly Community Choice Energy. [Read more…]

The Rise of Corporations as Climate Change Allies

By Nicola Peill-Moelter, Ph.D., SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/6/17)

There’s a new category of climate and environmental champions appearing just as the federal government is fading into the background: corporations. While we’ve been conditioned to think of corporate sustainability programs as greenwashing, evidence of real action is mounting, motivated by consumer and investor demand, and real threats to and opportunities for businesses. I know this because I’ve been working inside the belly of a corporate beast for eight years now as its environmental sustainability officer.

Republic of Cloud

Graphic courtesy of the author

My company is in the “Internet cloud” space, developing software-based services that are accessed via the cloud (public Internet). Our customers are the world’s Global 1000 companies as well as young startups, spanning all industries. Electricity consumption, the associated carbon emissions, and electronic “waste” from the annual decommissioning of thousands of servers are our main environmental impacts, similar to many other companies providing Cloud-based services, like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. To put things into perspective, if the Cloud were a country, it would rank 6th between Russia and Germany in global electricity consumption, as illustrated in the graph to the left. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, surpassing the airline industry in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions. My company’s globally-distributed network alone annually consumes the equivalent of 25,000 U.S. households in electricity. On the bright side, the Internet has and continues to replace more energy-intensive and material-intensive activities. It enables us to read, shop, listen to music, bank, work and socialize with less material consumption and without getting into our cars. In fact, a study by McKinsey & Company found that the efficiency gains from the Internet far exceed its impacts. Nonetheless, in the face of climate change and dwindling natural resources, it’s important that all industries and companies reduce their environmental impacts. [Read more…]

SECURITY & CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE REVEALS DISTURBING ATTITUDE SHIFT

By Mark Hughes, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the East County Magazine on 3/5/2017)

On February 21, 2017, an audience of approximately 75 attended the Security & Climate Change: Issues and Perspectives conference, held in the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. Organized and funded by The Center for Climate and Security (with the support of The San Diego Foundation and Skoll Global Threats Fund). The program focused on the threat climate change imposes on world stability, the burden it puts on the US military, and what they, as well as our local and state governments, are doing to plan for the consequences. The conference was followed by a screening of a new documentary entitled “The Age of Consequences.”

Veteran's Museum

Veterans Museum in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy of the author.

The Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, started the conference by noting that the city has been diligently working toward sustainability. Evidence of that effort, to name only two, include the city’s enforceable Climate Action Plan (CAP) as well as the largest water recycling effort in the western hemisphere. These projects could not be done without the close cooperation of the military based here (1 in 6 of the Navy’s personnel reside in San Diego, 1 in 4 of the Marines). San Diego, he said, sets the bar, leads the way toward positive, innovative change. [Read more…]

CLIMATE MOBILIZATION RALLY ENERGIZES SAN DIEGANS

By Bill Wellhouse, SanDiego350

The local affiliate of The Climate Mobilization, led by Derek and Nancy Cassady, held a rally Tuesday evening, February 21, 2017 at the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building on Front Street in downtown San Diego. An energetic crowd gathered at 6:00 PM to protest the Trump administration’s national climate policy and to promote The Climate Mobilization’s solution to the climate crisis.

Rally Stage

Rally stage. Photo by Bill Wellhouse.

The group’s primary mission is to induce the federal government to adopt a World War II-style mobilization to bring the nation to zero greenhouse gas emissions within a decade. This effort, they state, will revitalize American jobs and boost the economy.

Approximately 500 people attended the event. Music provided by the Swamp Critters bookended the event. Speakers at the rally underlined the urgency of combating climate change, and these included three third graders from Mt. Everest Academy. They reminded the audience, to enthusiastic applause, that they were going to be the recipients of the decisions we make today. Other speakers included representatives from labor (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), the Native American community, and local community organizations. Wesley Clark Jr., son of General Wesley Clark, the former general and NATO commander, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Mr. Clark emphasized the need for immediate action regarding climate change, saying we are risking nothing less than extinction with the course the world is currently pursuing. [Read more…]

Climate Change – An Islander’s Experience

By Shanty Asher

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/23/2017)

I am a proud Pacific Islander. Over the years, I have witnessed and stood alongside many of my fellow islanders and leaders, combating climate change and its impacts on the islands. Though the percentage of people in the US believe that climate change is real and human-caused is rising, it still only amounts to around half. I have no doubt that if Americans had seen what we have seen, had lived what we have lived through, I believe that percentage would be higher. Much higher.

Sandy beach 1991

Kosrae’s Sandy Beach from 1980’s. Photo courtesy of Kosrae Environmental Agency.

Today, I will share that story with you through an islander’s lens and maybe, just maybe, my story will paint a different picture of climate change; one that you may not have heard before; one that you can relate to because it is not a scientific prediction, but based on actual events.

As an islander, I see climate change’s impact and destruction on its face; it is already happening on our islands. I see it; so I believe that the climate has changed and continues to. As a Christian, I believe God is in control and I, so as many of my fellow islanders, must have faith and not question His work. Indeed, these are difficult and sensitive waters to navigate. Therefore, I will not attempt to dispute any of these views. Today, I only wish to raise a civil inquiry because I have witnessed too much and my empathy demands that I be concerned and speak out. [Read more…]

COUNTY SUPERVISORS CONSIDER COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION STUDY

by Mark Hughes, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the East County Magazine on 2/19/2017)

On Wednesday, 2/15/17, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors entertained public input on their Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP). Four SanDiego350 members: David Harris, Ken Brucker, Larry Emerson, and myself provided comment. Our primary message was to urge the supervisors to approve spending $200,000 on a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA, also known as Community Choice Energy) feasibility study. The completion of this kind of study is typically done prior to establishing a CCA program in the county – and SD350 believes that a CCA program would produce lower power costs, higher renewable energy content in the electricity we buy, and provide a stimulus for building more renewable energy production facilities.

County Admin Building

County Administration Building. Photo courtesy of the author.

SanDiego350 is not the only proponent of a county CCA. The consultant that the county hired to provide the CREP determined that a CCA would have a “high return on investment” Table 4-3. To make things even more clear, in Table 6-1, the consultant listed the top priority items in order of importance. The CCA feasibility study was considered the most important of the top priorities. County Staff concurred with the County’s consultant and similarly made the preparation of a CCA feasibility study their top recommendation (page 18/19 staff recommendations). In addition, the cities of San Diego, Solana Beach, and La Mesa, to name only a few, are also looking at setting up CCA programs in our area and we support them all.

[Read more…]

Over 100 People Celebrate Valve Turners Climate Direct Action Event in San Diego

By Scott T. Starbuck, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/19/2017)

The-Valve-Turners

The Five Valve Turners. Photo courtesy of www.shutitdown.today

Reuters reported that on October 11, activists in four states “shook the North American energy industry.” An appreciative audience at First Church of the Brethren greeted them Monday with $2,300 in donations for their legal funds, repeated applause, and a standing ovation honoring their vision and courage. A donation link has been set up for those who want to support Valve Turners. Of the group of five, Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein, Leonard Higgins, and Michael Foster were present and spoke at the event. Ken Ward, the fifth member and first to face trial, was unable to attend due to preparing for a retrial after a jury in Mt. Vernon, Washington, refused to convict him on February 1. San Diego was the last California stop on this leg of the Valve Turners Speaking Tour that will take them from Pacific to Atlantic in effort to awaken consciences of citizens to respond to climate reality. The Valve Turners’ personal risk and message of nonviolent direct action has gained press locally at the UT, nationally in The Nation, and on Democracy Now!

The Valve Turners Present Their Story

The Valve Turners Present Their Story. Photo by Amy Knight

Specifically, all of the five, as well as four of their videographers, are facing felony charges and prison sentences up to 51 years for coordinated actions which, according to former lawyer / current Valve Turner Annette Klapstein, “shut down all the major tar sands pipelines coming into the US across four states, in solidarity with [ . . .] brothers and sisters at Standing Rock who are struggling to stop the DAPL Pipeline and to call attention to the catastrophic climate emergency which the fossil fuel companies and their accomplices have created.” To highlight the seriousness of the situation, Ward, a former deputy director of Greenpeace USA, emphasized in a recent Willamette Week article, “The world is ending. Act freaked out.” Ward clarified his motive for shutting down Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline near Anacortes, Washington: “In five years we have to stop all new exploration for all fossil fuels, and we have to stop burning all coal, and we have to stop burning all tar sands.” Ward said street protests will never achieve these goals so he feels civil disobedience is the only viable option now to preserve a livable Earth. [Read more…]

Hearts Gather to Protect the Earth

by Trinity Willis, SanDiego350

On February 14th, a day celebrated by many in the name of love, people gathered early in the morning to advocate love for our planet. In front of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in San Diego, we wrote out our unconventional love letters on cardboard for passersby to read. Our signs expressed the following feelings: “Keep It In The Ground,” “Protect Our Climate, Water, and Health,” and, a favorite, “This Is Reality”. While it was an early start, honks of acknowledgement from the passing traffic invigorated us. We rewarded each supportive honk with instant cheer, not for the driver vigorously waving at us, but in affirmation of our cause.

SD350 Members Line Aero Drive

SD350 Members Line Aero Drive. Picture by Olga Cortes

Sometime in the second hour of our occupation, we moved into the parking lot, directly in front of the building. A handful of speakers lined up opposite us, voices amplified by a microphone, determined for those inside to listen. Among them: a proud and outspoken mother, whose speech grounded us in the knowledge that clean water for all families is a fundamental right. A professor from City College talked us through the cultural connection and obligation to Mother Earth. Also there: two brave people from Standing Rock, sharing with us their experiences on the frontline and solidarity with the Water Protectors back in North Dakota. When they had spoken their pieces we formed a wide circle at the entrance to the parking lot and began praying. Drums boomed and voices rose; we sang for hope, for peace, for our Earth. The Lakota language stirred a sense of pride, and we swayed in the spirit of the rhythm.

[Read more…]

County Supervisors to Vote on Community Choice Energy and Kill SDG&E’s Monopoly

By Tyson Siegle, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 2/13/2017

On February 15th, San Diegans will have an opportunity to take a huge step forward on clean energy. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on implementation for some or all of the San Diego County Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP). Many of the steps outlined in the plan save the county money and promote a healthier environment, but one particular piece of the plan could do more to promote clean energy and lower costs than all the rest combined: Community Choice Energy (CCE). If you already know about CCE programs and want to know what you can do to make sure the County Supervisors fund a CCE feasibility study, scroll down to San Diego County CCE Advocacy. For those of you interested in learning about Community Choice Energy and the impressive features of the newest program, read on.

What is Community Choice Energy?

Community Choice Energy, also referred to as Community Choice Aggregation, gives a city or county the power to decide where its electricity comes from, how much it will cost, and the sources used to generate that power. A CCE does not eliminate the utility option. It simply provides customers the additional option of Community Choice Energy. For the CCE option the local community takes over the power purchasing decisions from the utility company.

CCE vs IOU

CCE/CCA program model. Source LEAN Energy US

Cost control, location, and generation type each deserve further discussion. [Read more…]

Why I Support Standing Rock Sioux’s Nonviolent Protest Against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline

by Scott Starbuck, SanDiego350

The past two terms, my students asked why I support Standing Rock Sioux’s nonviolent protest against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline.  In the fewest possible words, these two RISE videos explain why: Part 1 and Part 2.  I am grateful cnbc.com reported that 4,000 veterans, and many others, from as far away as Norway, are supporting this effort.

Oceti Sakowin (main camp) Photo by Paul Sasso

Oceti Sakowin (main camp) Photo by Paul Sasso

One of my favorite thinkers, Isaac Asimov, said, “[Y]ou do your best to disprove your own findings.” which is what I did before I threw my support behind the Sioux.  In other words, I read Energy Transfer Partners’ claims and positions, and compared them with those of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters. However, I didn’t stop there.  I called former North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office and had a conversation with his secretary.

[Read more…]