Sep 22 2010

LWV Speaker Promotes Solar Panels, Pans Prop 23

An overflow crowd attended the “Save Carbon/Save Money” event, co-sponsored by the Piedmont League of Women Voters and Piedmont CONNECT, at Ellen Driscoll Playhouse on September 16, 2010.   Professor Daniel M. Kammen, the featured speaker, is leaving the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley to join the staff of the World Bank as Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.


Daniel Kammen

He gave an enthusiastic endorsement of solar panels and asked members of the audience who have them to raise their hands. Kammen called Proposition 23  (PDF CA SOS text) on the November ballot misleading and dishonest.  It would suspend California’s climate action legislation (AB 32 Chaptered 2006) until unemployment in the state drops to 5.2 percent for four consecutive quarters. “Prop. 23 is backed by big oil companies,” he said, “and their arguments are false. AB 32 had nothing to do with California’s high unemployment. Clean energy,” he said, “creates jobs.”

Following Kammen’s presentation, three panelists — Andy Doeschot from Pacific Gas & Electric, Karen Kho from Alameda StopWaste, and Kevin Jackson from City of Piedmont’s  Planning Department —responded to audience questions about costs of alternative energy sources and reliability of “smart” meters.  The cost of solar panels for an average California home was estimated at $20,000 – $30,000. Doeschot explained that PG & E does not wish to buy back excess power from solar panel installations in single family homes due to the complexity and line maintenance risks.  He stressed the importance of “right-sizing” solar panel installations so that they do not provide excess energy.  Doeschot noted that PG&E’s new “smart” meters allow customers to understand their energy use and tailor their behavior to reduce energy use.  The panel discussed Energy Upgrade CA, a new program that will begin in 2011, in which PG&E will offer rebates of up to $1,000 for home energy reduction. Homeowners who have an energy audit to identify energy “leaks” in their homes, and who then correct the leaks, also may qualify for rebates of up to $3,500.

Jackson noted that while Piedmont has no General Fund moneys allocated for energy rebates or subsidies, he is hoping to acquire grant funds to provide incentives for home energy retrofits. The Piedmont city website, he said, will also direct homeowners to other websites for more information. is one of the newest websites that allows individuals to determine their own carbon footprint.  Additional information for Alameda County residents about the brand new Energy Upgrade California program can be found HERE.

Reported by Marj Blackwell.

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