Posts Tagged ‘government’

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Could government green buying simulate the economy?

November 21, 2008

The Daily Kos (and other places too) recommended the government replace it’s mamoth fleet of ICE cars with Chevy Volts instead of dumping a huge bailout in their laps.  That would 1) stimulate the demand for US hybrids, 2) support the automaker with legitimate revenue, and 3) improve the government fleet’s MPG.

I’ve an advocate of this approach to promoting green tech (see my earlier post about School Solar) because it allows markets to develop.  Unfortunately, the companies most likely to have solutions are not equipped to navigate the bureaucracy need to do business with the government.  For example, Texas has funds to install solar at school but the money goes unspent because solar installers are not on school bid lists!

Here are 10 programs that would generate more tax revenue (to pay off ill conceived bailouts) and/or simulate critical US technology sectors:

  1. carbon tax (gas is cheap now, let’s act before people forget about high prices)
  2. convert trucks to natural gas (ala T Boone Pickens)
  3. energy neutral for schools and military bases in 5 years
  4. require national time-of-use billing by utilities including tax-by-time-of-use
  5. national passenger rail on dedicated tracks – free up freight lines for freight and make passenger trains faster
  6. nuclear plant design standardization & construction
  7. implement LED lighting in all government buildings (not those toxic CFLs!)
  8. legislate tele-commuting / commuting carbon footprint reduction
  9. enable cities to implement pay for car entry policies
  10. eliminate corn ethanol as a fuel
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Now I’m really scared…Financial meltdown foreshadows sustainability crisis

September 20, 2008

I’d been a disappointed proponent of allowing capital markets to place a value on sustainability.  I naively believed that anticipation of rising energy costs and emissions controls would drive investment in alternatives.

Today, it’s obvious that our market system is so greed driven that it can’t plan a quarter ahead let alone build something with returns over several years.  To compond problems, our government is handing out “get of out jail free” cards to Wall Street that further absolve of fatal lacks of strategic sustainable  thinking.

I mostly agree with the Government’s actions but think that we’re entering a era of required external oversight to ensure sustainable business practices. 

If you carry this thinking just a little farther, it’s obvious that the markets are never going to be able to foster sustainable technologies and practices without similar external (governmental) pressure.  I still think that economic incentives are the right approach for changing individual behavior, but short-term profit and entrenched interestes (oil & gas, etc) create too much pressure for the market figure this out alone.

While I would like to see less government involvement, we have to demand legislation that creates “artificial” incentives for sustainablity (alternative energy, recycling, and conservation).   This is our wake up call: the mortgage meltdown is a paper loss because the homes still exist – sustainablity is about real assets being lost forever.

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Schools are ideal location for national solar push

August 31, 2008

I’m mixed on residential solar: I love to see grassroots movement to expand solar but I’m skeptical about the ROI for widespread adoption.  I’m a believer in local solar as a way to regionalize generation.  Municipal solar sites (including commercial and manufacturing) would have scale and facilities maintenance that can generate a meaningful ROI.

If the Federal Government is serious about energy independence, then our schools are the ideal place to start.   The US should pay 100% of the cost to install arrays at every school in the country and allow the individual schools to use the energy savings/revenue to offset their facilities costs.  Just supplying this one initiative would consume the output of multiple PV factories!  The demand created would be enough for a VC feeding frenzy in PV speculation.

Schools are tightly integrated into our communities, high visible, and mandated to educate.  Solar schools would have tremendous and immediate community impacts with both economic and the social activism benefits.

Let’s set a goal for our schools to become energy neutral (or better) in 3 years.  It would be a bold statement to a huge audience that we’re serious about energy independence.  Now that’s something that students everywhere could sing and dance about!

Solar powered high school?  Now that's something to dance and sing about!

Solar powered high school? Now that is something to dance and sing about!