President Goes on Clean Energy Offensive, and He’s Not Alone

August 25, 2015

Christian Science Monitor:

Energy in the 21st century is slowly but surely shifting from centralized, emissions-heavy generation to decentralized, cleaner generation. The US government hopes to nudge that transition along by incentivizing businesses and homeowners to play a larger role in producing and consuming electricity.

That’s the aim of a new climate and energy package released Monday by the White House. The new initiatives are modest, especially when compared to the sector-wide Clean Power Plan finalized earlier this month. But they emphasize an element of the 21st-century energy shift that is often overlooked in debates about our energy future: namely, that tomorrow’s power won’t just be cleaner or more efficient, it is also likely to be less concentrated in the hands of utilities and more distributed among everyday citizens across the country.

“We are seeing the beginning of this transformation,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a press call unveiling the initiatives Monday, “and we see a huge opportunity to expand it rapidly.”

Emerging technologies like solar panels, smart thermostats, microgrids, and advanced batteries give consumers more information about their energy use, and give them more control over the flow of electrons that powers their everyday devices. Traditionally, electricity generation has been concentrated in the hands of massive power plants and the utilities that run them. That power is beginning to expand out into decentralized networks of solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage sites across the country.

Solar Energy, not just for tree huggers anymore…Conservatives like Arizona’s Barry Goldwater Jr. have now become advocates of what they are calling “energy freedom” – pushing Utilities to stop throwing roadblocks in front of citizens who want to participate in the renewable revolution.

Crain’s Detroit Business:

Barry M. Goldwater Jr. has a problem with fellow conservatives and utility executives in Michigan.

Goldwater Jr., 77, told me in an interview this week that he is upset with Michigan Republican legislators who he says want to discard the state’s successful net metering law that has helped to create jobs and a booming yet fledgling industry for rooftop solar projects on residential homes, churches and small businesses.

goldwaterjrThe son of one of the icons of the Republican Party – five-term Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Cold War warrior and Republican presidential nominee in 1964 – Goldwater says Michigan conservatives have it all wrong.

Goldwater contends the legislative effort in Michigan to pay rooftop solar owners less for the power they generate and ignore the contributions they are making to increase reliability and electricity on the grid is similar to one playing out in at least 15 other states.

“You might say there is a conspiracy of some sorts,” said Goldwater, who was a U.S. congressman representing California from 1969 to 1983. He served on many energy, science and technology committees during his career.

“Utilities talk with each other. They are on the same page. They don’t like competition and are doing everything to slow (rooftop solar) down,” said Goldwater, who also is chairman of Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK), a group speaking out against proposed legislation in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida and 11 other states that they believe would gut the rooftop solar market.

TUSK is partially supported by the Alliance for Solar Choice, which includes as members rooftop solar companies such as SunRun, SolarCity, Solar Universe and Verengo.

“My criticism of the utility business and all big monopolies that dominate is they stop progress and defend their position,” Goldwater said. “They spend money on lobbyists and politicians instead of being out front to back future energy sources.”

Goldwater believes the U.S. is “foolhardy to continue to burn scarce resources that will eventually be depleted and pollute the air and water.”

Besides solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric, Goldwater said there are many new alternative sources of power on the table and in development to replace fossil fuels. His favorite seems to be hydrogen fuel cells.

“Hydrogen will be a major force. Toyota, GM and other companies are investing in it,” he said. “Today, we are talking about the sun, trying to utilize that as much as possible to replace fossil fuel.”

Back in the 1970s, said Goldwater, Republicans and Democrats agreed to support numerous research and demonstration projects that led development of solar cells and panels, electric vehicles, geothermal energy, and even the “breeder reactor.”

But Goldwater now says some conservatives have lost their way when it comes to renewable energy, and especially rooftop solar projects.

“The question always is: Why would a conservative Republican be supporting rooftop solar? Why? It is a good, clean source of energy. It comes from the sun, so it is renewable,” he said.

But from a conservative standpoint, Goldwater believes rooftop solar is an expression of individuality, freedom and liberty.

“The genius of our founding fathers is their support of individual interest,” Goldwater said. “We advocate as much freedom from government from taxes as possible. Solar energy fits in with that philosophy.”

10 Responses to “President Goes on Clean Energy Offensive, and He’s Not Alone”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    ” The US government hopes to nudge that transition along by incentivizing businesses and homeowners to play a larger role in producing and consuming electricity.”

    This is absolute fucking madness.

    Homeowners do not have a Dept. of Energy.
    The Federal government does.
    The Federal government has the full responsibility to tackle renewable energy.

    The Federal government is failing that responsibility. It’s even worse than that – here they are trying to make their failure a feature, not a bug.

    And the media are helping them. So is Peter.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      I think it is anything but ‘madness’ to foster micro-generation and within home owners. Germany and Denmark have been doing exactly that with the result that half of the renewable energy sources are owned by privates (people like you and me), co-ops and communities. I actually believe this is the right way to go: away from centralised corporate energy supply to decentralised (and within safer) generation in the hands of the people.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Why do you think centralized = corporate? As I have said repeatedly, the energy sector is already the most publicly-owned sector of the economy.

        What I am saying is that centralized should = fully public.

        A national electric system is properly the responsibility of government. It always has been up to now. Now, the President is saying this responsibility and cost should also be left to business owners and homeowners – and you think that is progress? It’s not progress – it is your feared corporatization – yet another privatization of commons ownership into corporate hands.

        You have it completely backwards.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          And we pay taxes for the government to provide us with reliable low-cost energy, btw. If you think I should install my own system, I want my taxes lowered.

          And, man, I would need them lowered: rooftop solar is twice as expensive as scaled-up solar. And that is not including the extra expense of disassembling and reassembling that rooftop PV system every twenty years or so when my roof needs to be replaced.

          Rooftop solar, in most of the country, is simply not the wisest way for energy monies to be spent. For a lot of reasons, but mainly because we are STILL going to need a huge amount of large-scale green energy plants anyway.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            And Germany and Denmark are special cases. They have lousy insolation and crowded landscapes. They would KILL for what we are blessed with – huge empty expanses with near-perfect insolation – the American Southwest.

      • petermogensen Says:

        I’m not sure about the “half of” number being correct for Denmark. We have an awful lot of wind turbines, and the completely dwarf the solar installations.

        However… we have had days where solar (which is mainly installed in private homes) covered 14% of the Danish energy use. … and I’ve heard of no problems.

        I have a 9.125kW solar installation which covers about 3/4 of our total energy usage (incl. heating (earth based heatpump)) … it works without any problem what so ever. Out total electrical bill each year (incluing heating) for an 100 year old house is for about 2600kWh

  2. MorinMoss Says:

    The call by Muslim leaders to phase out fossil fuels took me by surprise.
    But it’s welcome – we can’t accomplish it without them any more than we can do it without India & China.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: