Green Party of California Policy Recommendations for a Safe and Sustainable Energy Future
Green Party of California calls upon the State Legislature to take immediate action on the following recommendations:
- Work toward full public ownership of power. Studies consistently show that municipally operated utilities run more efficiently and provide better customer service than Investor Owned Utilities. They also provide revenue streams to localities, so surpluses can fund general prosperity rather than fund investors' prosperity.
- For the short term, as necessary, the state should buy power to pass on to California consumers to avoid outages. This should proceed without a rate hike, and without the utilities being allowed to take profits from the energy that the state is providing.
- The utilities should be required to consider the profits and assets of all their divisions and holding companies in paying for their debt. If the utility companies cannot come up with the money, and public money is needed, it should be used to buy the utilities for the public, not simply to give the utilities money to continue to use for private profit.
- For the long term: We need to create an entirely publicly owned and run utility system statewide that is managed for the public benefit. This system should use "tiered pricing" and make other efforts to promote conservation, and seek greater use of renewable energy sources. We should not use taxpayer dollars to bail out a private corporation.
- Place an immediate moratorium on sales of energy production facilities to out of state generators. The California PUC is currently considering a proposal for PG&E to sell its hydroelectric power system to out-of-state energy companies. State policy should not allow the parceling out of our commonwealth to corporate interests outside the state with no feeling of connection to its people.
- Support a massive project of energy conservation. We must make up for years of under funding of energy conservation programs by funding a massive program of energy conservation. Such an effort could fund efficient appliance purchase rebates, small business conservation loans and grants, training and small business development for energy service providers, energy conservation innovation competitions, and other creative projects. Savings in energy would be almost instantaneous, and could be dramatic. Large users who have not done all they can to reduce energy use should pay more for electricity. Energy conservation funding should be abundant.
- Initiate use of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards to fund Clean Energy Production and Conservation. Adopting Portfolio Standards is a strategy used in Massachusetts, Vermont and other states for financing renewable energy projects. It mandates that a fixed percentage- from 2-20% of electric revenues be placed in to an account to fund renewable energy installations. This works to generate the kind of support needed to help renewables thrive.
- Allow cities to aggregate their energy purchases by repealing 366-A-C of the California Public Utility Code. Doing this will allow cities to become "default aggregators", and allow them to purchase power for their cities in bulk at large user rates, which are lower than individual customer rates. Currently, the utilities are the default aggregators, and customers must actively notify the utility that they want to join an aggregator, such as Green Mountain, Go Green or an aggregated city.
- Identify and replicate innovative local energy conservation projects, such as the Regional Energy Efficiency Initiative. This initiative, conceived by the California Energy Coalition, is being implemented by the cities of Santa Monica and Irvine. It aims to set up partnerships between cities and their local utilities to bring about projects targeted at specific end-user groups that maximize energy conservation and renewable energy projects at the community level.
- Use "tiered" energy pricing to a greater extent. While PG&E currently uses baseline and greater than baseline, the difference in price, from 11.5 cents to 13 cents, is not enough to make a difference. We should have multiple tiers, and "wasters" should be charged much more.
- Restore renewable energy credits to local governments.
- Allow "net metering" by households, government and non-profit entities to build alternative energy generation and sell the excess power to the grid at retail rates.
- Increase allowable size and amount of renewable generating project buy-downs given out by the State.
- Shift utility underground responsibilities (Rule 20A) and revenues to local government.
- Allow cities to purchase electricity directly from established municipal utilities.
- Use "time-of-day" pricing as much as possible and install time-of-day meters for large users.
- Stop subsidies for the research and development of nuclear power and oppose license extensions for nuclear power plants.
- Encourage formation of City Electric Departments to explore municipalization options or to oversee aggregating city residents, so power can be purchased at lower bulk prices.
- Promote conservation. Include information in utility bills about where and how to obtain low-energy lights, super-efficient refrigerators, insulation, etc.
- Provide financial incentives for people to use renewable energy sources and conservation.
- Address building codes that are ostensibly pro-solar energy but then permit home owner associations and condo associations to restrict and prohibit condo owners from installing solar energy on their commonly held rooftops.
- Create an incentive program to encourage conservation by landlords. Currently, many landlords refuse to pay to insulate homes because the tenant pays the energy bill, so there is no financial motivation. (Possible solutions: require landlord to pay energy bill, allow tenant to insulate and deduct cost from rent, tax-incentives to insulate, etc).
Green Party of California recommends the following more general guidelines in determining our appropriate course toward fulfilling California's long-term energy needs:
1. Increase our use of energy conservation.
Not only getting people in their homes to turn off unused lights and lower their thermostat, but we need to remove large industrial users of electricity from the electric grid. As pointed out by Hunter and Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute, a dollar spent on conserving a unit of energy will save many more that would need to be spent to produce the same amount of electricity.
2. Say No to Coal, Oil and Nuclear Power
We are concerned that the Bush administrations recent pronouncements on energy will lock America in to a non-sustainable policy that will encourage more dirty generation by nuclear, coal and oil powered plants. We must move away from this old energy paradigm and toward renewable energy as a major goal for the new century.
3. Create A More Responsive Public Utilities Commission
The California PUC needs to be more accountable to the people, and made more open to public input. This can include everything from better access and information on citizen petitions and right to know provisions to public election of commissioners.
4. Better Community Planning
We need to plan our communities to make them more efficient. There can be better public transportation and other alternatives to auto travel, buildings using more efficiency and alternative energy, both active and passive, and a more decentralized energy production strategy, using smaller facilities closer to the point of use.
5. Protect the Local Economy
Stressing local production for local use can help prevent the flight of capitol from the local economy, as we are seeing now as we ship billions of dollars to generators in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. Getting large, centralized, dirty energy production plants shut down and replaced with a cleaner, more efficient system should be a major goal for the new century
6. Pass strong, meaningful campaign finance reform laws.
Undue influence by large corporations, which pay elected officials to pass laws that hurt the public, must be stopped.
Prepared by Green Party of California Energy Working Group