Why Does Everyone Hate Clean Energy?
Doug Korthof hit the nail on the head today in the Orange Coast Voice when he asked the question: “Why does everybody hate clean energy?”
I’ve framed this blog in the context of Proposition 7, but Korthof eloquently reminds us that the groups opposed to Prop.7 are the groups who have a vested interest in keeping solar and clean energy from taking off.
I certainly disagree with his criticism of Proposition 7. Korthof focuses on rooftop solar as a solution, but 40% of green house gas emissions in CA come from power plants. The burden of getting off dirty fossil fuels should be on the largest producers of it, which is what Prop 7 is designed to do. PG&E is very happy to tell us we should change our light bulbs. How about PG&E change theirs? Plus, CA has an aggressive solar rooftop plan in place, but the Legislature just failed again at increasing the RPS requirements. But, the important point here is that we need a comprehensive solution to California’s energy needs and Prop. 7 along with rooftop solar are definitely two key pieces to that solution.
Having said that – here’s what caught my eye about Korthof’s article. Solar rooftop programs were stalled by the same cast and crew now opposed to prop 7 (the last paragraph really captures the conundrum):
"The big utilities were granted a monopoly to control the electric supply, and they want to maintain it. Opposition to rooftop solar rooftop power by the utilities is trenchant and determined.
It isn’t only utilities that suffer. Those companies that supply fuel to the power plants, such as coal, natural gas and uranium vendors, and the unions that are needed to run the plants, all are afraid of a loss of control, power, jobs and/or business.
Prop 7 forces utilities to buy more renewable power and creates a mechanism for solar concentrator plants in the desert run by the utilities. It is silent about distributed rooftop power; so it doesn’t do much, but it’s still too much for the power brokers.
Certainly the utilities could have reached out to local homeowners, paying for solar PV systems on otherwise unused roofs. Instead, SCE is fighting against cities like Oxnard, trying to put in dirty “peaker” plants that are only needed in the daytime. SCE never considered using the same amount of money ($45 million) to find 4,500 solar homes in Oxnard willing to solarize their rooftops.
Utilities have fought the implementation of solar power instead of promoting it even though it solves their peak usage problem. They prefer fiery out-of-state coal plants.
Environmental groups stood by while Schwarzenegger put substantial obstacles in the path of anyone daring to put solar on their own private property. Under the guise of stopping citizens from ripping off the solar tax rebate, he required a complex system of “predicted performance” that makes the cost uncertain and requires dozens of pages of new red tape.
If solar power were promoted, we’d have clean electric power. But the utilities would have less political power, unions less work, pols fewer bribes, and the enviros would not have an issue on which to raise money. So in a sense, the united opposition to this measure shows what a farce our “energy policy” has been."
A sad reality check that's very nicely put. Proposition 7 would all but wipe away this co-existence and THAT'S why everybody (that is, the utilties, enviros, etc.) hates clean energy.