Let's face it - being 'green' is the new cool. But sometimes an ulterior, industry-driven motive lurks behind the 'green halo' that we trust in so-called environmental organizations. This blog is dedicated to keeping individuals and organizations who claim to be for clean, renewable energy accountable.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Politics vs. Science – Who Wins?

*** Update: Here is a link to the actual letter - http://www.yeson7.net/images/Heeger-and-Kohn-Prop7.pdf.

I got word today that three Nobel laureates – world renowned leaders in renewable energy science – sent a joint letter to the ‘environmental’ groups opposed to Prop 7 to quit being so short-sighted and to quit misreading the law proposed by the measure. I can’t word it as well as they did, so I will post the letter in full below. So what’s the tally now? When it comes to renewable energy experts, you have Dr. Donald Aitken (founder of the RPS), S. David Freeman, (head of some of the biggest utilities in the country, including the Tennessee Valley Authority), 3 Nobel Laureates – basically, a whole bunch of politically disinterested, hands-on brainiacs in the field of renewable energy – against 5 of the 200 or so environmental groups in CA who also happen to take thousands from the utilities funding the no on 7 campaign. You decide.

To the PresidentOptisolar

We are writing to you today as supporters of California's Proposition 7, some elements of which you have criticized. As you know, this initiative would require all California utilities (public and private) to provide 40% renewablenenergy by 2020 to their customers, and 50% by 2025. The initiative also provides powerful new tools to reach these objectives. We hope that you will reconsider your criticisms of Proposition 7 in light of the following points, thereby helpingto create a common front in support of constructive legislation on energy/global warming.

1. Unfortunately, SB 411, which shared some of the same objectives as Prop. 7, but without additional tools for reaching the higher goals, has been eliminated from the California legislative process. Thus, at this time Prop. 7, which garnered many more than the necessary number of signatures, and whose current popular support is 63% for, 24% against and 13% undecided, is the only new California energy initiative which has a good chance of success.

2. The goals of Prop. 7 may seem overly ambitious, but after careful consideration we have concluded that it represents a realistic, necessary and fair share for the United States although it still fallsshort considerably of the targets of AB 32. Please also keep in mind that present U. S. per capita consumption exceeds the global average by about a factor of 5 and that its emission of greenhouse gasescontinues to grow apace.

3. Importantly, Prop. 7 does provide several powerful tools significantly stronger than in existing federal legislation, including a PURPA-like feed-in tariff, an improved process for calculating the “market price” by which renewable energy contracts are judged, and more leeway in judging whether renewable energy contracts are reasonable. Weexpect these new tools to substantially help additional renewable energy projects come online.

4. Although Prop. 7 decreases the cents per kilowatt-hour penalty for non-compliance with its targets, by removing the $25 million cap imposed by the Public Utilities Commission, its overall effect will be, in virtually all cases, an increased net penalty.

True, Prop. 7 contains an expedited permitting process that applies only to projects 30 megawatts and up. For existing smaller projects the normal, local permitting process is adequate. Contrary to some misconceptions, under Proposition 7 projects under 30 megawatt continues to contribute to the requirements of the “RenewablePortfolio Standard”.
Surely Prop. 7 could have been formulated better in some regards. (But recall: “The best is the enemy of the good.” Voltaire) We hope you will agree that if made into law it would represent a very significant step forward, which merits your support. Adoption of Prop. 7 by the state of California would doubtless have an enormous impact also far beyond its borders.


Walter Kohn, Research Professor of Physics and Chemistry, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1998)

Alan J. Heeger, Professor of Physics and Professor of Materials, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2000)

Herbert Kroemer, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Nobel Laureate in Physics (2000)

Prof. Kohn is a theoretical physicist with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1998). He has been a member and/or Board member of the Federation of AmericanScientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Natural Resources DefenseCouncil for several decades. He is concerned and actively involved in thenational discussions concerning energy and global warming, including theproduction of a pair of films on solar energy (“The Power of the Sun”, translated into 9 languages). He has contributed to the recent international meeting in Balithrough its chair, German Chancellor Angela Merkl.

Prof. Heeger is a physicist and a Materials Scientist physicist with a Nobel Prizein Chemistry (2000). He created the technology of low cost “plastic” solar cellsusing the Bulk Heterojunction concept. Plastic solar cells promise to provide asignificant decrease in the cost of producing electricity from the sun. Heparticipated in the conference on Climate Change and Global Sustainabilitysponsored by Chancellor Angela Merkl (October 2007).

Prof. Kroemer is a theoretical physicist with a Nobel Prize in Physics (2000),awarded for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed andopto-electronics. They are the fundamental concept underlying allsemiconductor-based lasers and light-emitting diodes; the latter leading to arevolution in lighting technology. Heterostructures are also widely used inmodern high-speed communications electronics.



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