It's great that U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu promotes energy efficiency. But what about clean energy? "Its abundant, it's there, we know how to get it, and so we have to learn how to use it cleanly," he opined to Steve Inskeep of National Public Radio recently. You would think he was talking about sunlight and wind, which are far more abundant, cheaper, cleaner, and more accessible than what he was really talking about - "clean coal". With such outdated guidance in federal government, it is more important than ever for US citizens to take up energy and climate policy in their own hands at more local levels.
It is time, once again, to start an American revolution in truly clean energy by the citizenry, from the bottom up, as well as the top down. How?
From the bottom up, the revolution is already starting. In many states there are policies to help communities throughout the US to use clean energy. And this is where you can make a difference through your local community government.
For example, the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program offers free solar power systems to municipalities that make substantial commitments to clean energy. Similar programs exist for Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland, among others. In addition, states, such as Massachussetts, are helping community governments to pass resolutions mandating that their supplying utilities provide an increasing percentage of their energy needs from clean energy sources. Gunnison, Colorado, gives homeowners the option of purchasing power from clean energy sources; the resulting cost is 5% more than the average regular energy bill - a 5% solution to climate change. Berkeley, CA, is providing upfront financing for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels that create the energy to run the household. Homeowners then pay off the loan over the next 20 years by paying a special tax on their own subsequent energy bills. As noted in our free downloadable book, there are many mechanisms that exist to increase the use of truly clean energy. But many more communities must get involved to make this a truly national revolution.
How can you help? First, check out any programs within your state that might possibly help your community to use clean energy at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Even if there is nothing for your community, check out all the different mechanisms that various communities throughout the US are using to increase their clean energy use. Then start lobbying your community government with ideas, and don't stop until your community is on its way towards using clean energy. Nothing less than the health of our planet, our country and our children's future are at stake.
From the top down, we call on the captains of industry - yup, here's a shout out to Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates, among others. Join the revolution by creating a billionaire's/multimillionaire's clean energy club. The sliding scale price of admission might start with investment in one large wind turbine and go to ownership of one or more clean energy farms. Fossil fuel financiers get extra perks for investment. The payback? Club members have special access to each other, offering a unique way to network.
If you finance a foundation, create programs that foster the use of clean energy in communities. The clean energy movement already links to the interests of many foundations, since the replacement of fossil fuel with truly clean energy will improve the physical health of much of our community, and through that extension, our economic health.
So here's a toast - whether rich or not, bottoms up to a truly clean energy future!
And Barack Obama called Kanye West a jackass? Time to get refocused on that tidal wave of climate change headed our way, ya think?