A few snips from a recent Dan Rather Reports on HDNet.
|Power from the People|
|Episode Number:||417 - Available on iTunes|
|Synopsis:||Germany is moving quickly to develop alternative energy, allowing individual homes to sell excess power to electric companies. Also, Abu Dhabi goes green and an icon of the environmental movement, Denis Hayes.|
RATHER (VOICE OVER)
FREIBURG (GERMANY) TODAY ACTUALLY PRODUCES MORE ELECTRICITY THAN IT CONSUMES – ALL FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES. THIS HAS HELPED REVIVE A REGION ONCE DEPENDENT ON ITS AGING FARMERS AND FORESTERS.
THE GROWTH IN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY HERE AND TOWNS ACROSS GERMANY IS A RESULT OF A GROUNDBREAKING POLICY, ADOPTED IN BERLIN THAT REQUIRES ELECTRIC COMPANIES TO BUY RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM ANY PROVIDER. THIS MEANS ANYONE WITH A SOLAR
PANEL CAN SELL THE ENERGY THEY PRODUCE AT A PROFIT. IT’S CALLED A FEED-IN TARIFF, AND THE IDEA CAME FROM GERMAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER HERMAN SCHEER…
THE FEED-IN TARIFF IS NOT FUNDED WITH ANY TAX DOLLARS. THE COSTS ARE DISTRIBUTED ACROSS ALL THE ELECTRICITY BILLS OF THE COUNTRY, AND THE AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD PAYS JUST UNDER TWO DOLLARS A MONTH TO SUPPORT THE PROGRAM.
And people accept that totally -it is popular. Because people accept that more than paying taxes. Because they know this additional money is given for green energy and for new jobs.
RATHER (VOICE OVER)
GERMANY SET OUT TO HAVE 14% OF ITS ENERGY GENERATED BY RENEWABLE SOURCES BY 2010. THEY ACHIEVED THEIR TARGET 3 YEARS EARLY.
DENIS HAYES, PRESIDENT, BULLITT FOUNDATION
"...we can run America today with the (alternative) technologies that we have in hand today, and the price would be 20 or 30 percent more for our energy, unless we invested a lot in efficiency, at which point the overall price would be less. There are some of us that would say, "That's a really good deal. If you can avoid global warming, (if) you can avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons, (if) you can avoid acid rain drainage, (if) you can avoid oil spills, (if) you can avoid all of this stuff for a 20 percent increase? For heaven's sakes, do it."
I'd do it. I supposedly do it now. I pay a slightly higher energy rate to join the "100% wind-generated" program. I have to take their word for it.
The entire transcript is here. If you read it, you will be reminded that, if we had followed Jimmy Carter's lead back in the late '70's and invested heavily in solar technologies, we would be well on the way to energy self-sufficiency by now. But Ronald Reagan allowed the oil companies to rule the roost, and delayed solar development in this country by 20-30 years. The oil majors won that round.
Florida is giving the feed-in tariff idea a shot here in the States. This idea could totally upend the oil majors. Kinda like single-payer could totally upend the health insurance companies.
We have so many answers in our hands, at our fingertips. What we don't have is bold and fearless leadership to get us to where we ought to be.
Well, actually, we had bold and fearless leadership under George W. Bush. It was just in a really bad direction. I think Obama comes from a different place. I sure hope so, but I can sense that the Magic 8-Ball is saying "future uncertain."