Powerdown Local Resolution Ideas
Develop a City of Seattle Food Policy Action Plan which would identify policies, programs and opportunities to promote local food system sustainability and security.
Strengthen local farmer’s markets and market gardens by finding them permanent locations for existing farmer’s markets.
Identify additional locations and infrastructure for community gardens that would strengthen our community garden program and maximize accessibility to all neighborhoods and communities.
Support programs such as a Food Bank –Food Waste Recycling Project or an Urban Farmland initiative that can assistin providing fresh food for food banks and meal programs.
Form a Regional Food Policy Council that can assist the City and the County in the long run with developing policiesthat contribute to our goals.
Encourage community gardens and streamline the approval process for them
Allow chickens (hens) to be kept within the city limits
Ban homeowners covenants that do not allow gardens or chickens (similar to the ban on covenants preventing the use of solar panels)
Require a specified percentage of locally produced foods for all city events that involve food
At Nanosolar, we believe very much that meaningful scale for solar will come foremost from utility-scale solar power plants, in particular from municipal solar power plants of 2-10MW in size. These are rows of solar panels mounted onto the ground of free fields at the outskirts of towns and cities, feeding power directly into the municipal electricity grid.
A 2MW municipal solar power plant requires about 10 acres of land to serve a city of 1,000 homes — that’s acreage generally easily available at the outskirts of any city of such size in even the most developed countries. Similar for a 10MW plant for a city with 5,000 homes: This would require five such lots.
Municipal solar power plants are an avenue for delivering a GigaWatt of power in a state through one solar farm each in a few hundred cities — local to where the power is needed — as opposed to constructing a new coal-fired or nuclear plant. They can also be deployed very rapidly. (It takes 10-15 years to get a new coal plant done; a solar plant can be done in 12 months — provided no administrative blocks exist).
In a solar power plant, solar panels are mounted onto rails above the ground so that grass and flowers can continue to flourish in between and below the rows of panels. Care is taken that sufficient amounts of rainwater can drop through between adjoining panels so that the flowers and organisms below are not starved.
Municipal solar power plants integrate very naturally into the existing landscape as well as the existing electricity grid. By feeding power into the grid directly at municipal voltage levels (typically 20kV), they even avoid the expense of a substation for down-transforming power from high (multi-100kV) transmission voltages as required by conventional power. Furthermore, the solar power plants utilize power inverter electronics with increasingly intelligent features which enlightened utilities around the world are now recognizing as a very good way to improve grid power quality especially at the outer branches of the electric grid where power quality is hard to manage otherwise.
In any region with a decent amount of sunshine, there is no more economic way of reliably providing municipal power during the day than through a municipal solar power plant.
Ground-mounted solar power plants are installed in industrially streamlined ways, with specialized tractors deploying standardized substructure components according to standard system block designs to achieve optimal cost efficiency.
While rooftops are surely a good application too for solar panels, it is a business that’s difficult to scale rapidly in a truly meaningful way. Crawling onto rooftops and mounting solar panels in compliance with building codes is fundamentally always a somewhat more expensive proposition. The truth is that a lot of the money for residential solar only feeds bureaucracy.
Municipal solar power plants can be deployed a t a different level of efficiency and speed. This is just not yet known very well to the public, particularly in the United States and in California (where we have California Solar Incentives which are adminstered by the state utilities and which presently block this most cost-efficient form of installing solar).
But towns and cities throughout Europe and Asia have already proven the concept, and more and more — increasingly entire counties in fact — are now implementing plans to go 100% renewable based on a mix of solar and biofuels. It works, it is economic, and it is possible now. (Any U.S. utility executive who is concerned about the new world of local power but desires to learn more should join this trip.) It is a silent revolution going on that the press rarely reports about.
A good exception is an article today in our local newspaper – “Local communities reach for power over energy” (SF Chronicle) – describing how Marin County in California is wrestling with going for local renewable power. We salute their effort. It is well timed, smart, and with a lot of foresight. They are on the right track based on what we see happening in our own industry and in energy overall. In a few years, they will have less expensive power than it is available in the rest of PG&E territory.
The amount of activity going on behind the scenes in readying technologies, sites, and financings for such is tremendous, and this will become very visible to the public in many locations in the United States in 2010. There is a reason why one of the world’s largest power producers invested in Nanosolar.
But now is the time for cities and counties to lay the adminstrative foundation for having their own power, 100% renewable, if they care to make a difference by then.
Joy on Municpal Power
~ Sorry I don't know the others' email addresses and am on a different mail account right now - this group (Nanotech) has little activity, I'm forwarding it to hopefully bring awareness that alot of people are jumping on the bandwagon and we really want to push a manufacturing plant. Couple of different reasons: NCSU is testing a 45% efficient pv cell now; we want to beat the rising utility prices and not wait in line for panels; when Pres. Clinton spoke in Hillsborough last week he mentioned bring mfg back to the states (not outsourcing) and specifically addressed the need for manufacturing and the renewable energy industry. There will be more tax credits and incentives for this type of thing. As 'advisors' - I'm hoping the advice is to not get caught with our pants down...stay on top of the game, which means investing right now. We've a large university which brings most of the area's economy, let's keep 'em cool in the summer and warm in the winter and put some definitive resources in place. Ok, got to get off my soap box now. I just finished up a case study for Durham Tech that I did as a project that I tied into two of my classes <the second class is a programming class - still working on hooking the spreadsheets up to a website that I'm developing>. (See my blogs on myspace.com/gdgrl828 if you're interested in the spreadsheets and the money pv systems will save per building. It's really eye-opening, especially the amount of water that the power plants consume to provide electricity for the buildings.) I'm in for pay now(yoo-hoo!) part-time to develop spreadsheets for all of the power resources at DTCC (as well as water and sewer) as the NC State Energy Office is now requiring universities and state buildings to provide this information to them. If anyone knows of any other 'folks' that fall into this new reporting category, plz forward my name and email to them!
Provide local property tax breaks for people who install solar systems.
Ask why Orange County is talking about giving away the landfill gas to UNC? What is in it for Orange Co? According to the report I read, Orange gets nothing, UNC gets 6 figures of fuel per year.
Implement a solar power plan to cover all park and ride lots of the city and university with photovoltaic panels. Although this may seem frivolous with the current efficiency rates, NCSU is currently testing pv cells that are 45% efficient. Putting frames in place now, while steel manufacturing costs are relatively reasonable, makes sense. When the new stuff comes out, replace the ones at the park and rides (better locations for optimal solar irradiance) and move those panels to other locations atop municipal buildings or donate them to the elderly. <If we have our own plant, we’re good to go without waiting in line for those nice 45% efficient jobbies the state will eventually force all governmental buildings to have at a significant cost, of course.> <Ah, might as well put a lid on those new soccer fields too> J
Community Choice Aggregation
One of the most promising models is called "Community Choice Aggregation." CCA is the legal term for an innovative way for cities and counties to purchase electricity by votes of local governments.
Previously, the only way for a local government to have a say in where the community's power came from was to establish a municipally owned utility. The CCA process provides an easier way to switch to an earth-friendlier power supply without taking on the burden of managing the power lines, collecting bills, and the divisive politics involved with the expensive process of bringing energy under municipal control.
Not sure if this is the same model as NCGreenPower
Hedging Fuel Purchases
Change local building codes to exceed state code as far as new energy efficiencies for equipment in new homes.
Provide local rebates for Energy Star appliances, water efficient fixtures (like Cary does)
Provide free HVAC check ups, duct leak tests etc. through local service organizations.
Subsidize CFLs, just like shower heads
Town Managed Facilities
Lead by example- all gov't buildings should reduce consumption 25% I cannot tell you how many times I have heard AC running in an empty government building. Nobody seems to care. I have made suggestions and reported stuff in the past, it is ignored. If you think there isn’t waste, note that I have cut water consumption at Duke by 25% without trying that hard. And Duke is an excellent steward of its resources compared to others, believe me.
Require a payback of less than 5 years for all energy conservation measures. I can help them with the math if need be. Almost no one looks at cost/benefit, it is appalling.
New homes built in Montgomery County [Md.] would have to meet federal energy efficiency standards under innovative legislation approved yesterday by the County Council over the objections of builders who said that the mandate would drive up costs for consumers.
Property tax credits for residents who switch to renewable energy
A requirement that residents disclose utility costs when they sell a home
State level - force covenents of HOA's to allow line drying
Encourage working 4-10’s where feasible
Encourage telecommuting where feasible
Turn off vehicles, do not leave them idling.
Local and regional transportation suck. Need more and smaller vehicles running in town with larger feeders from outlying areas. Need to study places like DC or NYC. Need to charge for buses to help pay for itself, take that money and put it into energy efficiency measures and rebates.
A shift away from infrastructure oriented solutions. New infrastructure is a priority, of course, but I'd like to see short term, visible, and inexpensive solutions that can build momentum - the "Curritiba" approach.
In an ideal world, wide outer lanes, no bike lanes, equal rights and responsibilities for all. In our car centric world, I believe things like bike lanes are needed to stimulate urban cycling - as a form of marketing and promotion. [Per Tom Ed White]
A connection between Umstead and Carrboro.
Redesign of East Franklin to accomadate bicyclists. One solution would be to repaint it into two wide outer lanes and a center turn lane.
Increased law enforcement on rogue bicyclists. This helps with safety, the most important thing, but also sends a message that the city takes bicycling seriously - as long as it's not misunderstood as"persecution" of bicyclists.
Develop a public transportation system that is accessible to everyone, connects with other local systems, and is convenient
A plan to get county officials to trade in their government-issued sport-utility vehicles?
Longer-term need some form of electric transportation or alternative powered
Local strategic petroleum reserve at old airport tanks
Purchase bigger tanks (and store somewhere other than a flood plain)
Plug-in hybrid fleets charged at night
Require all new development projects meet standards for mixed-use, walkable communities
Promote the “local” economy by encouraging local ownership, import substitution, and entrepreneurship (see Business Alliance for Local Living Economies or BALLE) (Let’s not export our wealth, let’s keep it at home)
Support development of curricula at local community colleges for gardening/agriculture and green collar jobs
Create energy conservation and renewable energy initiatives
Build a photovoltaic thin-film manufacturing plant in town. Considering the rising costs of energy with the onset of peak oil – this will be a strategic investment. (Get UNC on board with this – those buildings use a lot of energy.)
Revolving loan energy fund
Change the building codes/permits to require that all new city or governmental (or university) buildings are LEED certified – I would go so far as to insist that they have in place a means to provide a goodly portion of their energy consumption through renewable sources. (Hey – Chapel Hill doesn’t let fast food joints in town and they have certain other restrictions – considering the amount of water used to produce electricity from coal (which is our main source) and our continued water problems, this makes sense for any and all new buildings.
We want to build another landfill. The costs of shipping out our trash are going to be too variable. This way we also encourage more recycling – etc. I don’t agree with shipping our trash out.
Local effort to change national policy
I asked a friend who's an engineer interested in helping institutions and gov'ts conserve energy for his input. I did not use the loaded term Peak Oil, but put it to him in terms of if he were in charge of local gov't in these times of rapidly rising energy costs, what would he fix first and why? Here's his response. Note that this very intelligent person doesn't believe in manmade global warming and probably doesn't agree with much of what some of us might take for granted politically and environmentally. Yet he still came up with ideas similar to what's been expressed by the group. (I disagree emphatically with him on impact fees for affordable houses, but he makes some excellent points.) Some of his suggestions, like encouraging working (4) 10 hr days as opposed to (5) 8 hour days cost little to nothing and yet have big ramifications in terms of cutting not just commuting, but the cost to heat/cool gov't buildings, etc.
Forget “walkable”. It is BS.
Forget biodiesel, it is eco poser.
Forget LEED, it is lame and expensive. Need to do things that really matter.
This area is way too diffuse to have meaningful “regional” transportation.
BTW - I believe the "they" he refers to at the end is the Carrboro, Chapel Hill, UNC and Duke governing bodies, whom he's tried to help and advise in the past.