Tags >> alternative energy
Jun 16
2009

Energy Efficiency Loans

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma , solar , legislation , housing , government , finances , environment , economy , construction , conservation , community , climate change , budget , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

A new county program to help finance solar panels and other energy improvements for existing homes and businesses is up and running, and working out some early kinks in the system.

 

 One important aim of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, says John Haig, Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Manager , is retrofitting the area's existing housing stock and other buildings to boost their energy efficiency.  You can read a general introduction to the program here.

How much will these projects reduce local energy consumption? There are a great many variables that go into that calculation, Haig explains.
 

Information, speakers and exhibits about solar energy and the county's retrofil program will be featured at the free Solar Sonoma County Solar Fair, Saturday, June 20, 11 am to 6 pm at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa. Click here for a full schedule of events.


 

 

Jun 14
2009

Grow Smart Bay Area

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , resources , recreation , policy , planning , parks , open space , nonprofit orgs , jobs , housing , government , environment , economy , design , construction , carbon , business , alternative energy , air quality , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

 

With another 2 million people expected in the Bay Area by 2035, Greenbelt Alliance is urging local governments to plan now where they are going to live. And they've got some ideas to suggest, too.

Greenbelt Alliance Executive Director Jeremy Madsen (left) points to the east bay town of Hercules as one community that has proactively embraced a smart growth development plan for their city.

 How might that work in the North Bay? Greenbelt Alliance has already prepared a case study of Novato as an example.

There is mounting demand for smaller homes in attractive urban neighborhoods, says Madsen, and he predicts that builders and developers will need little encouragement to move toward meeting that demand.

If we change how the Bay Area grows, says Greenbelt Alliance, we can make our region more climate-friendly, affordable, and economically competitive, while protecting our farms, forests, and watersheds. Read more about the Grow Smart challenge here, or click here to see a regional map of projected residential growth sites.


Jun 08
2009

Green New Deal

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , Sonoma , solar , resources , politics , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , legislation , jobs , Ideas , government , environment , employment , economy , community , climate change , carbon , business , budget , author , alternative energy , activism

Bruce Robinson

 Almost eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal helped America climb out of the Great Depression. Now some North Bay activists are promoting a Green New Deal to respond to our current economic crises.

 They state their mission as follows:

The Green New Deal for the North Bay is a grassroots initiative to help transform Marin and Sonoma counties into a resilient community guided by environmental sustainability and economic equity.

During 2009 and early 2010, the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay will seek answers to such questions as:

  • How can we create a sustainable green future that includes economic equity and social justice?
  • How can agendas for economic rights and environmental protection become more integrated and more successful?

To explore such questions, the commission held eight public forums in May and June 2009-in San Rafael, Mill Valley, Point Reyes Station, Novato, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Sea Ranch, and Petaluma. 

 Having completed this first series of community meetings (notes from some of them can be seen here), Green New Deal co-commissioner Norman Solomon says the comments could be seen to reflect at least a few ideas that were widely shared throughout the region.

During the summer, the commission will assess that community input and schedule public hearings in fall 2009. In those hearings, the commission will hear testimony from experts on such issues as food, housing, water, energy, health care, and social equity.
 The difficulty in reconciling valid but competing interests may be the biggest challenge facing these Green New Deal commission, as those potential conflicts  crop up in such a wide range of issues and circumstances. Solomon cites a recent public meeting in Petaluma at which the hotly disputed new Dutra asphalt plant proposal was being debated as just one example.

 

The commission will communicate its findings, first in draft form and then as a final report, to the public, media outlets, and government officials. To effect change through community participation and public policy, the report will also offer overall specific recommendations for North Bay residents, businesses, community groups, institutions, and government entities.

 The 17  Green New Deal Commissioners who are working to carry out these tasks are:
Co-Chairs
Kiki La Porta
Sustainability Activist, Marketing Communications & Design
Lisa Maldonado
Executive Director of North Bay Labor Council
Will Pier
Water, Fisheries, Waste Management and Ecology Specialist
Norman Solomon
Author and Activist for Social Justice and Peace.

Commissioners
Caroline Banuelos
Olivia Beltran
Steve Burdo
Julie Combs
Rue Furch
Jonathan Frieman
David Keller
Jerry Mander
Judith Newton
Daisy Pistey-Lyhne
Peter Richardson
Ginger Souders-Mason
Carolyne Stayton


May 28
2009

Clean Energy Bills

Posted by Bruce Robinson in West County , water , transportation , technology , speaker , solar , Sebastopol , resources , politics , policy , nonprofit orgs , jobs , government , environment , employment , economy , Congress , carbon , business , alternative energy , air quality , activism

Bruce Robinson

From Capitol Hill to downtown Sebastopol, people are finally talking seriously about climate change and clean energy legislation.

 Peter Oliver (left)  is the co-owner of Make Mine Electric one of the five businesses currently incubating at the new Blue Sky Center in Sebatopol (shown below). In this audio clip, he explains the two-pronged business model he and partner Brain Hall are rolling out there.

 

As a demonstration of his company's electric vehicle conversion capabilities,  Oliver drives the red replica Porsche 356 seen below, which is now powered by batteries and an electric motor rather than gasoline.

 

Even as progressives debate the policy details embedded in the federal energy bills under consideration in Congress, Barry Vesser (right) remains hopeful that some members of the minority party there will also be able to find reasons to support the new measures.

 

 

 

 For a more thorough explanation of the relative benefits and drawback of "Cap and Trade" versus "Cap and Dividend" legislation, click on the artwork to link to a downloadable booklet.

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