GUEST OPINION: Community, Sustainability, Prosperity
Good Energy: Cheaper, Cleaner, Safer
by Hoiyin Ip
Have you noticed renewable energy is going mainstream?
San Diego Gas & Electric lets you switch to renewable energy. SDGE.com/EcoChoice has a calculator for different types of customers to calculate the savings. For instance, for 500 kilowatt hours (kWh) of use in a month:
- Switching to 50% renewable would save a residence $1.09, a small business $1.53, a medium/large business $4.53.
- Switching to 100% renewable would save a residence $2.19, a small business $3.06, a medium/large business $9.06.
If you have an electric vehicle, you should definitely choose an electric vehicle (EV) plan for more savings. What I really like about EV is that I can “fuel” it while I sleep, and pay the super-off-peak rate. In my pre-EV life, I cannot tell you how many times I was late for something already, the car was low on gas, too, and you know the rest of the story.
Another renewable trend is switching to electric appliances (or all-electric homes). Unlike gas appliances that release pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, electric appliances don’t pollute the air and are more efficient.
You might be thinking, “What about blackouts?” Microgrids are a solution. Currently, the power comes from miles away, through a vast electrical system. If one of the areas needs to shut power off for fire protection, we might be off, too. We need local power, starting with solar panels on roofs and in parking lots.
These kinds of initiatives need to be spearheaded before sea-level rise worsens. According to California Energy Commission’s report Assessment of California’s Natural Gas Pipeline Vulnerability to Climate Change, “California’s natural gas transmission system, much of which is located along the state’s waterways, is particularly vulnerable to damage caused by inundation (flooding). . . . Sea-level rise enables greater extents and depths of inundation during (extreme) storm events.” Who is going to pay for the damage?
According to a Los Angeles Times story, “California ditched coal. The gas company is worried it’s next,” in city council chambers across Southern California, SoCalGas is working to convince local officials that policies aimed at replacing gas with electricity would be wildly unpopular.
The story states, “More than 100 cities and counties have endorsed the company’s push for ‘balanced energy solutions’—a powerful base of support that it can use as leverage in the coming years as it fights potential laws and regulations that might diminish demand for its product. Behind the scenes, the gas company has funded a self-styled, grass-roots advocacy group pushing the same agenda. The company is also one of the funders of a national trade group’s pro-natural gas campaign, which includes a public relations blitz targeting millennials and support for Trump administration regulatory overhauls.”
I’ve wondered how normal folks can win a battle against large corporations. Recently, I learned the phrase “societal license”—how society views a company. According to a TIME magazine story titled “The Reason Fossil Fuel Companies Are Finally Reckoning With Climate Change,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden considers the uncertainty facing his company over the next decade: souring public perception, shifting consumer behavior, the risk of becoming activist investors’ next target, political leaders’ bold promises to dramatically reduce emissions.
The new decade belongs to renewable energy: cheaper, cleaner and safer.
Hoiyin Ip is often recognized on the street as the plastic lady for her cleanup work. But she likes to think of herself as a guardian of the ocean. She is often reminded of a quote by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”