Clean Energy Solutions
The San Francisco Bay Chapter is working on implementing a range of Clean Energy Solutions. Here are some important examples:
- Getting solar panels installed on every appropriate home in California (and five other states).
- Local action to limit climate disruption
- Stopping fracking
- Supporting Community Energy Programs
- Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and use of dirty tar-sands oil
- Reducing local barriers to the installation of solar power systems
- Divestment from fossil-fuel investments
- Requiring the Diablo Canyon power plant to study seismic safety issues before it can be relicensed
- Reducing energy use through building sustainable transportation and land use systems
- Guaranteed prices for renewable-energy producers
Solar Homes Campaign 2014
The Sierra Club is working to get solar panels installed on every appropriate home in California (and five other states). You can be next, with little or no upfront cost. Learn more and get solar panels for your roof.
Local action to limit climate disruption
Global climate change, due to human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, threatens to devastate our planet. Temperatures worldwide may increase by four degrees over the next century—or perhaps much more. The changes will vary from place to place, and will also affect rainfall, storminess, cloud cover, sea ice, and every other climate variable. Many of these will not just change in quantity, but will increase in variability. This global climate disruption will lead to increasing desertification, shifting of entire ranges of habitats, mass extinctions, and rising sea levels—and to famines, epidemics, storms, and heat waves--changes likely to exceed any disaster in human experience.
The most important way to limit these disasters is through our use of energy--by using less energy and by switching to clean and renewable energy-production methods that don't emit lots of greenhouse gases.
The Bay Area alone can't stop these changes, but we can do our local share and also set an example for the rest of the state and nation.
It's a great time to join in our work for sustainable energy. To find out about meetings of the Bay Chapter's Energy and Climate Change Committee (quarterly, plus as needed) and to get involved, contact committee chair Dave McCoard at email@example.com or (510)524-5171.
» Read about a recent success: "Air District Passes 'Historic' Climate Resolution for Bay Area"
A key issue currently for all levels of the Club is stopping or at least limiting the environmental damage caused by fracking, which uses huge volumes of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, to blast open rock formations to extract oil and gas.
Community Choice Energy Programs
Since 2002, when California passed AB 117, a law enabling local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of their residents and businesses, different counties and cities have been exploring models for Community Choice programs. The local governments want to charge rates competitive with PG&E--and to offer a much higher proportion of renewable energy. The Bay Chapter has been in the leadership of campaigns to establish Community Choice energy programs throughout the Bay Area, and to help these programs prioritize locally generated renewable energy.
» For more information, see "Community Choice Energy".
Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands
One of the Sierra Club's leading national campaigns is to block approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would be used to pump dirty, carbon-intensive oil from Canadian tar sands. Here in the Bay Chapter we have been helping organize protests to stop the pipeline. We also are working to keep tar-sands oil from being refined at Bay Area refineries; see "Join the Bay Chapter’s new fossil-fuel campaign–keep dirty fuels out of the Bay Area". To get involved, contact Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at (510)848-0800, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expensive and inconvenient permit requirements can discourage homeowners and businesses from installing solar energy. As the result of a Sierra Club campaign, in September 2012 the governor signed two bills capping excessive permit fees charged by local governments for residential and commercial rooftop solar systems.
Now we are starting a closely related campaign to make permit requirements simpler and more uniform.
» Read about our successful earlier campaign at "Governor signs energy bills" and "Sierra Club California honors volunteer for new laws on solar panels".
We are taking part in the national campaign to urge governmental agencies and colleges to divest from investments in the fossil-fuel industry; see "San Francisco moves towards fossil-fuel divestment".
Nuclear power is another hazardous source of energy, and we support efforts to require the Diablo Canyon power plant to study seismic safety issues before it can be relicensed.
» Find out more at:
- "PUC tells PG&E: find safe way to test at Diablo Canyon" (Nov. 22, 2012)
- "Protect marine life from Diablo Canyon seismic testing" (Oct. 12, 2012)
- "Judge rejects PG&E application for ratepayer funding at Diablo Canyon" (Dec. 23, 2011)
Another key area for reducing energy use is through building Sustainable Transportation and Land Use systems.
Guaranteed prices for renewable-energy producers Increasing our energy FITness
By guaranteeing a fair price, feed-in tariffs can bring renewables on-line quickly. So-called "feed-in tariffs" (FITs) offer the best opportunity for California to quickly increase the percentage of our electricity produced from clean, renewable energy sources. This is the most effective policy option for bringing renewables on-line rapidly, in volume, and at the lowest cost to ratepayers. The most important feature of a FIT is that it pays a renewables generator a rate (tariff) based on the actual full cost of generating that electricity plus a reasonable profit. A well-designed FIT includes several other key features including:
- the contract is long-term - typically 20 years
- the contract is standardized and simple
- the contract is "must take"
- the utility must sign a contract with any generator who meets basic requirements » almost any entity can become a generator
- rates are based on such factors as the specific technology, project size, and location
This set of features greatly reduces financial risk and is very investor-friendly. If generators are guaranteed a rate that allows a reasonable profit over 20 years, and the utility has to buy the power, lenders will be inclined to give loans, and at good rates. FITs have a clear worldwide record of greatly increasing renewables at very low cost. FITs especially help smaller "developers" who are not fundamentally in the renewable-energy business, such as a homeowner, a farmer, a church, a bicycle shop, or a grocery-store chain. Our goal is to establish a statewide FIT that will encourage small producers of alternative energy by guaranteeing them a fair price for the power they produce.
» For more about FITs, see "FITting renewable energy into California" .