Conservation, efficiency, research and development, and renewable energy sources are essential elements of our proposed energy policy
We need to develop strategies that recognize that fossil fuels are formed in geological time and cannot be replaced in the short term and they are being depleted rapidly (except coal). Moreover, our current dependence on fossil fuels (especially coal) is creating unacceptable environmental damage, including climate change that will bring great hardship to many humans and non-human life.
Conserving energy will reduce the need for fossil fuels (and dangerous nuclear energy). We can also lessen our dependence upon energy sources by driving more fuel efficient cars and by simplifying our lifestyles to include things such as living closer to our work and eating lower on the food chain.
U.S. dependence on imported oil contributes to our military involvement in other parts of the world. Elimination or reduction of this dependence would eliminate or diminish the reason, or the excuse, for such military involvement. Decentralizing energy production is important to improve security from attack and also for less dependence on large facilities feeding into massive grids that are easily disrupted.
Proposed state and national energy policies would loosen environmental protections. Clean air, clean water, endangered species, and the Alaska Wildlife Refuge are all threatened. Many local communities, often poor and minority, are being threatened by mining activities, waste storage, waste incineration, dirty production facilities and other assaults.
Nuclear Power is being promoted as a solution to global warming but it leaves long-lived and dangerous wastes in its wake.
Streamlining of permits in response to the 2000-2001 energy "crisis" changed the process for siting power plants. It sidestepped previous environmental legislation and the process by which residents participated in the decision making. Also it led to an increase in the number of fossil fuel peaker plants which are used when demand for power is the highest. They are less efficient than new full-size natural gas plants and they emit much more pollution per unit of energy produced.
Global Climate Change
In the last decade, the Earth has experienced some of the highest average temperatures ever. The United States is responsible for emitting approximately 25% of all greenhouse gases worldwide. Energy generation, including transportation uses, account for most of this. It is vital to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible, while also using permaculture agriculture techniques for soil carbon sequestration, to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, and then reduce CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere from their current 392 parts per million (ppm) down to a more sustainable 350 ppm or lower.(See Protection of Atmosphere plank)
Regulation vs. Deregulation vs. Public Power
California's failed attempt to deregulate energy utilities indicated the dangers of investing our energy future in the hands of an energy market committed only to maximizing profits. Deregulation has failed to produce the promised rate reduction for residents, but rather has caused our bills to soar.
Deregulation gave the three privately held California utilities a cash windfall that allowed their holding companies to control the allegedly competitive market. They invested in energy plants in the U.S. and worldwide, and own billions of dollars in assets not touchable by the state to rectify the outstanding utility debts. Under deregulation, many of the state's utility generation facilities were sold to out-of-state companies who then sold that power on the open free market at exorbitant profits.
A growing pool of experience shows that Municipal Utilities Districts and other public power agencies run more efficiently and provide better customer service than Investor Owned Utilities.
California's deregulation law provided a small fund to promote renewable sources, low income assistance, and energy efficiency. The rejected alternative for renewable sources, which was pushed by environmentalists, would have required all electricity generators to produce 10% of their energy from renewable sources. This left a voluntary effort by independent power suppliers to market "green power" to customers. The effort resulted in very little new renewable power sources. Eventually, a target of one third by 2020 was set.
Approximately 25% of all energy use in California is expended on the supply and movement of water and facility maintenance and operations.
The Green Party of California proposes:
Phase out fossil fuels as an energy source to the greatest extent possible and convert to renewable sources. Require all electricity sellers to replace at least 50% of their energy use with clean renewable sources by 2020, and a long-term objective of 100% clean renewable sources by 2035
Use subsidies, incentives and regulations to encourage the development of such renewable techniques as passive solar for heating and cooling buildings; solar water heating; solar electricity; non-polluting culturally-sensitive geothermal, wave/tidal, wind, and small scale hydroelectric energies; and reinstate the "direct access" option for residential consumers so that they can get power from companies using renewable sources.
Aggressively implement subsidized energy efficiency installation for lighting, home and office appliances, industrial motors, and gas boilers; and increase rebate and replacement programs.
Require energy efficiency, and solar power with appropriate optimization measures such as orientation, massing, shading, and use of green materials in building codes. Prohibit homeowner associations and condo associations from restricting member owners from installing solar equipment on their commonly held rooftops and from hanging out laundry.
Support a massive project of energy conservation. We must make up for years of under-funding of energy conservation. We need more efficient appliance purchase rebates, small business conservation loans and grants, training and small business development for energy service providers, energy conservation innovation and curriculum in public school science courses on how renewable energy sources work.
Include information in utility bills about where to obtain energy saving products to establish better communication with people and especially those sociologically disadvantaged to assure people’s rights relative to energy distribution
Restructure electricity rates so that residents are not paying more than big business. Require large users who have not done all they can to reduce energy use to pay more for electricity. Develop a tiered residential pricing system that takes into account family size.
Make our supply of energy more secure and affordable through localized, decentralized energy production with a strong component of municipal ownership to provide nonprofit competition to private providers.
Require utilities to pay the highest spot price of the day for renewable electricity input by retail consumers via feed-in tariffs (the selling of the excess power to the grid by private generators) to encourage building of alternative energy sources such as local, renewable distributed generation (localized, diverse and integrated renewables, efficiency, demand response and storage) and Community Choice Aggregation projects.
Use "time-of-use" pricing as much as possible and install time-of-day meters for large users.
Create an incentive program to encourage conservation by landlords and tenants.
Cities or utilities should have a contact designated to educate energy wasters--someone that people would be able to call when they see careless energy wasting, like parking lot lights left on all day at a big box store.
Stop subsidies for the research and development of nuclear power. Shut down/ decommission existing nuclear power plants (San Onofre and Diablo Canyon in California) and replace them with renewable sources. Repeal the federal Price-Anderson Act, which limits the financial liability of the nuclear industry in case of accidents. Insurance companies will not cover nuclear power plants, so this liability is a subsidy to the nuclear power industry now borne by taxpayers.
Repeal the "permit streamlining process" for siting power plants. Use solar to meet peak demand.
Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations, by encouraging a reduction in worldwide meat consumption, and by transitioning to a plant-based agricultural system.
Employ union labor in green energy projects.
To better distribute renewable sources, there should be more emphasis on individual solar power from photovoltaic panels installed on every roof possible and subsidized by the government with increased buy-down rates and low-interest loans to those who need them.
Make our supply of energy more secure through decentralized energy production, including new technologies such as small wind, combined heat and power retrofitting, water and air pumped storage, hydrogen cell storage, and less dependence on outside sources of energy. We should seek more energy independence within California borders, and strive to establish local and regional virtual (combined) power plants in order to achieve fully localized diversified energy security with no need for long range energy imports.
Prohibit sale of power generating and distribution assets to out-of-state power companies who would not be subject to California Public Utilities Commission oversight and control.
When Green Power marketers reenter the market here they should provide new renewables and avoid top-down, anti-democratic, funder-led objectives.
Replace aging, inefficient and polluting plants. Utilities must pay for the costs of disposing of their wastes and any costs of cleaning up their pollution
Municipal utilities should address water and electricity issues together. Both should be declared a public resource to remove their commercialization. Government at all levels must focus on increasing efficiency and conservation.