Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let the Sunshine In!

When sitting down to write this post that old classic Aquarius, performed so well by the Fifth Dimension, just popped into mind. I kept hearing the ending chorus, "Let the sunshine... Let the sunshine in..."

Change in America is in full swing. The very image of Barack Obama, soon to be our political leader and commander-in-chief, is Bigtime Change in itself. It's change that's rejuvenating our politics; regenerating our culture; and restoring our good reputation abroad. Call me corny but I never left my idealism at college 36 years ago. I also served an Army hitch, so I've earned the right to be a little out there. Is this the real dawning of the Age of Aquarius?

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation

Yes, this change also will be good for solar power and all other truly renewable sources of energy. We still need to impress on President Obama that there really isn't such a thing as clean coal. Those words will always be mutually exclusive. Nuclear power needs to be fazed out, too, and our dependence on natural gas for producing electricity needs to be shown the door by 2050, if not sooner. Speaking historically, we have more knowledge and experience in clean energy solutions than we had in 1961 when we challenged ourselves to land on the moon. We did that in just eight years.

Props 7 & 10 Go Down

California voters were surprisingly discerning on Tuesday about the two big energy related propositions on the state ballot. Proposition 7, a so-called renewable energy generation initiative, blew a lot of smoke but CA voters saw threw it (see Commentary below). The measure was roundly defeated statewide by 64.9% to 35.1% of those voting. Similarly, Proposition 10, the alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy initiative that T. Boone Pickens was behind, was defeated by nearly 20 points, 59.8% to 40.2%.

These two defeats come as a result of two factors. Californians remember being figuratively raped by outside power sharks during the energy crisis of 2000-2001. Poorly written state deregulation coupled with greedy players --Enron, Duke Energy, El Paso Corporation, Reliant Energy and Sempra Energy (parent of SDG&E)--made ratepayers like wolves being shot from airplanes. This writer sold several PV systems solely on the "backlash" effect of this travesty.

The other reason is that Californians have been at this renewable energy thing for awhile. CA residents and businesses enjoyed both a solar/wind rebate program and a state income tax credit for solar installations from 1998-2005. Although the state tax credit ended, the federal solar tax credit came into effect in January 2007 when the new California Solar Initiative (the "other" CSI) was also instituted. Whether with active participation or by osmosis, citizens in the Golden State can tell the difference between a fair, deliberate approach to energy problems and some private entities' blatant grab for cash at the public's expense.


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