Saturday, October 22, 2011

Managing Contraction

Loosely adapted from a monday morning blog written by social critic and curmudgeon profit James Howard Kuntsler. 

Reality is telling us to downscale and get different fast. Quit doing everything possible to prop up the drive-in false utopia and all its accessories. Get local. Tighten up. It looks certain that most folks have no intention of doing that.

We're mismanaging contraction. Further expansion is just not in the cards right now. We can't handle more people on the planet, and we don't have the means to accommodate them. There will be no 'recovery" to "growth" - especially by means of pumping more oil into the system. There is no techno-miracle alt-fuel hiding in the wings to take over from oil. And there is no research-and-development program that will make it happen.
I admit that contraction is a hard reality - but so is the recognition that we don't get to live forever, something every child begins to grapple with around age seven. The inability of our society to face comprehensive contraction will only insure that its side effects are more debilitating and cut deeper.

It is important for our local communities to think about powering down -- how we could accomplish the various aspects of our lives (food, water, clothing, education, etc) with very little or even no oil.  We must also plan for how we will accomplish these with far less money.  Things like local reskilling, local resource base, and local production -- coupled with local bartering networks -- become critical parts of the solution. The six R's of lower consumption are important to keep in mind as well. We can happily manage with far less by reducing, recycling, reusing, repairing, re-finishing, and repurposing.

Make every single purchase count toward preparing you and your community for what lies ahead.  Gain the new skills.  Hook up water barrels, put away vegetable seeds, track down mechanical/power-free tools into your neighborhood. But there is no substitute for real connection with your neighbors. Set up chances to meet one another. As the economy continues to contract, knowing the people who live within 15 minutes of you become your de-facto community. Get to know them, and let them know you. When the Federal Government finally admits it does not have the ability to improve our lives, we will have a local network already in place.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Support Colorado's Solar Rebate Programs

The sneaky move Xcel Energy pulled last week to hurt the solar industry in Colorado is close to criminal. On Feb. 17, 2011, the monopoly – without any advance notice – suspended the solar rebate program.

Xcel abrupt and self-interested move is devastating to Colorado’s 400 solar companies. Suspending the Solar Rewards program could stop all future residential and commercial solar installations and solar leases that were counting on the rebates. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) predicts 2,000 to 3,000 people who work in the solar industry will loose their jobs.

Black Hills Energy in Pueblo pulled a similar move by suspending its solar rebates in October 2010 causing a 90% decrease in solar sales and significant job losses. The current solar rebate program had been working well. Slowly ratcheting down incentives as solar costs decreased, incentives were reduced nearly 50% during the past two years as solar electric costs decreased by 40-50% during the same period.

Citizens, to help reinstate solar rebates at both Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy please take two minutes to express your opinion by filling out the online form at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Refer to docket # A-135 E.

Before Xcel pulled the rug out from under the solar industry, rebate changes were predictable, incremental and transparent. Zero notice and eliminating a successful incentive program shows Xcel’s disregard for renewable energy in our state and the environment.

Public citizen support and the passage of Amendment 37, spurred Colorado to become the #2 state in the U.S. for solar jobs with 5,300 people working in the solar industry in our state, and a national leader in reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

Xcel’s self-interested move makes me further distrust the utility monopoly as a future provider for Boulder’s energy future. As a concerned citizen, now I feel even more drawn to have Boulder take control of our electricity supply. More at