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SDGE Should Push Rooftop Solar Program, Says City Attorney, Noting Utility's Lagging Response to State Clean Energy Mandates

San Diego Gas & Electric should concentrate on in-area strategies for producing clean energy, such as a rooftop solar program, according to a report by the city attorney's office. SDGE derives just 6 percent of its electricity from renewables, versus 12 percent for Pacific Gas & Electric and 16 percent for Southern California Edison. The state's major utilities are mandated to derive 20 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by the end of 2010. SDGE says it won't make it. Worse, it is relying on its controversial Sunrise Powerlink, a 150-mile transmission line from Poway to Imperial County, to meet its requirement, according to the report. Experts have objections to Sunrise. City Attorney Mike Aguirre says he is prepared for his office to go to court to get compliance from SDGE.

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San Diego Gas & Electric should concentrate on in-area strategies for producing clean energy, such as a rooftop solar program, according to a report by the city attorney's office. SDGE derives just 6 percent of its electricity from renewables, versus 12 percent for Pacific Gas & Electric and 16 percent for Southern California Edison. The state's major utilities are mandated to derive 20 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by the end of 2010. SDGE says it won't make it. Worse, it is relying on its controversial Sunrise Powerlink, a 150-mile transmission line from Poway to Imperial County, to meet its requirement, according to the report. Experts have objections to Sunrise. City Attorney Mike Aguirre says he is prepared for his office to go to court to get compliance from SDGE.

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13

Even more important than solar, which much be pushed as you recommend, is the immediate imperative for building non-fossil fuel burning power plants such as nuclear combined with desalination to guarantee clean water and energy into the long term future.

Unfortunately, Washington politicians still aren't serious about doing anything about climate changes which we are already experiencing with deadly and costly firestorms.

And clean water supplies are in grave jeopardy.

Again, NORC dominates our society.

July 8, 2008

Response to post #1: Nuclear plants may definitely come back strong after being out of favor for many years. Desalination will be ever more important. Toilet-to-tap may be revived. Best, Don Bauder

July 8, 2008

Lee Iacocca defines our current failed society as good as anyone: "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder.

We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind,and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.

But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course' Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America , not the damned 'Titanic."

We're screwed, and we did it to ourselves. Nuclear power and desalination imperatives are almost hopeless under the current social, political and economic breakdown conditions.

We have no leaders, just an entire population of lemmings going over the cliff, or to China and India to get our old jobs back!

So just keep sending us your water from Colorado Don.

July 9, 2008

Response to post #3: The corporate gangsters stealing us blind get subsidized by the government and/or Federal Reserve when they gamble excessively with borrowed money. Iacocca could have mentioned that. Best, Don Bauder

July 9, 2008

Response to post #7: Again, take it up with the city attorney's office. Best, Don Bauder

July 9, 2008

I've had solar panels on my home for two years. The biggest gripe I have is that SDGE charges a $5 monthly connection fee regardless of whether or not I use any of their power. In the meantime they sell any excess that I generate. Now with the new demand meters they are charging an additional $3.81 per month for the meter. I have no incentive to conserve power since they will charge me roughly $110 per year even if I use none of their power.

July 9, 2008

Response to post #5: That is an interesting point. You might take it up with the city attorney's office. I would say this: if the oil situation continues to worsen, legislation will change SDGE's ability to get away with what you described, if in fact the company does so. Best, Don Bauder

July 9, 2008

Response to #6: SDGE claims that it has certain costs that they cannot recover by selling excess electricity generated by solar. I'm not sure how they can say that with a straight face. With the new demand meters they will credit solar users for excess energy at a higher rate during the peak hours (11 am to 6 pm) but you have to pay the connection fee and the meter rental regardless. The net effect is that I might as well run my A/C all day since I have no incentive to save. The good news is that my electric bill for all of last year was only $89. For more info on the new rate schedule for Solar users see sss.sdge.com/solar. Dennis

July 9, 2008

Nuclear energy is not the way we should be going. As much as the technology has improved, there is no reasonable answer to the problem of the radioactive waste generated by the plants.

Loading depleted uranium on the tips of missiles and spreading it all over the Middle East is not a reasonable answer. Burying it in Nevada may be appealing to some -- unless you live by the highway or railroad that's supposed to cart this deadly waste past your neighborhood.

Additionally, the initial costs are very high and we wouldn't see a single kilowatt of electricity for years while the plant is being planned, designed and built.

These caveats ultimately make nuclear energy a red herring in the quest for renewable and sustainable energy sources.

In his visionary book "Plan B 2.0", Lester R. Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute (www.earthpolicy.org) suggests that solar and wind power are the most cost-effective, earth-friendly technologies that can be deployed quickly and without a massive initial investment. He also mentions the huge and mostly unexploited potential of geothermal energy. Tidal energy could work in Southern California, but the cost of land on the shores is prohibitive and there are negative impacts to the environment.

Desalination's greatest problem is that it's an energy-intensive process. With the deployment of large solar- and wind-powered plants, the energy can be provided in a much more cost-effective manner. Adding the potential of geothermal energy, there may also be more than enough to help along the much-needed change in transportation technology to the plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle.

These vehicles won't do much for the big picture if we continue to produce the energy by using non-renewable and unsustainable technologies. An electric car that was charged with electricity generated with a coal-burning plant is basically a car that "pre-pollutes" the environment. The end result will still be an agonizing biosphere and accelerated climate change.

The effort to change the energy paradigm must be led by the government. The Apollo Alliance (www.ApolloAlliance.org) proposes a strategy to invest Federal funds in a WPA-style program that would create jobs for Americans and expedite the switch to renewable energies. This would serve America far better than spending Federal funds on subsidies for fossil fuels or biofuels, another red herring of the energy industry. You can see what biofuels are already doing to staple food prices.

I support Mike Aguirre's initiative to prod SDG&E into taking the correct and responsible action which is required by law. If they need to be sued into compliance, so be it. Let's make sure they pay for the City Attorney's time and expenses if it has to come to that.

July 15, 2008

Response to post #9: Solar and geothermal are definitely answers. Wind power gets some arguments from bird lovers, but there may be a better way to do it. Your explanations are enlightening. Best, Don Bauder

July 17, 2008

Mr. Bauder, you're absolutely right about the bird caveat of wind generators. Earlier technologies made it obvious that this was a problem that needed to be addressed.

More recent technology uses 3-blade propellers that are much larger and spin much more slowly than earlier designs, which help mitigate this problem.

Another consideration is the placement of the turbines. California's coastal strip is a very busy bird migration corridor. Obviously, this is not a good place for this kind of operation.

The inland deserts provide a much better location in that respect, and more consistent and powerful winds to boot.

However, placing these operations in the desert areas would require a PowerLink-style line to deliver the energy to the high-demand urban and suburban areas of the county.

There are several groups that oppose the PowerLink concept because of environmental concerns. I would think that if there is a guarantee that at least 80% of the energy delivered is from renewable sources, they may be much more amenable to the idea. Furthermore, the program could be designed to REPLACE nonrenewable energy sources rather than to facilitate galloping, unmanaged and unplanned urban/suburban sprawl in the eastern parts of the county.

Any shift we make in the energy industry needs to be backed by an honest cost-benefit analysis. By honest I mean including the costs to the environment and biodiversity of the region. Ignoring these costs is perfectly foolhardy -- we will all have to pay for the consequences eventually.

On a recent puddle-jump flight from Tucson to San Diego, I was pleased to see several large-turbine projects along the way. Perhaps there is a silver lining to the five-dollar-plus gallon of gasoline. We have to look beyond the growing pains to see the real value of this momentous change.

I strongly believe we have the wherewithal to accomplish this massive industrial shift. What remains to be seen is whether we have the cultural and political will.

July 17, 2008

Response to post #12: Yours are thoughtful comments. One thing most don't mention: conservation. We should raise the price of gasoline. That would force car-pooling, as well as lessen driving. Then lower the speed limit to 55 or 60, depending on the location. Detroit should be required to sell 80 percent of its cars getting 40 MPG in five years. Airlines should be forced to cut back on flights. These are just some suggestions. Best, Don Bauder

July 21, 2008

One problem I had with the 16-acre Encanto Gas Holder site decommissioning in 2000-01 was that the former public utility site would not be used as a solar energy farm, especially as it was right next to the all-electric San Diego Trolley Orange Line.

Right now, the 77 or so homes planned for the site are on hold. There's too much going on with a Prop. 65 lawsuit and a second federal environmental crimes trial pending over the site. (I admit to being a lawsuit plaintiff... and a federal crime victim.)

Eventually, I would like to see the site become a solar energy resource for the local power grid. At least that's what I'd do with it if I owned it.

July 30, 2008

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