On July 9, John Farrell spoke to a group at the CommonBound 2016 Conference. The conference brought hundreds of leaders together to share “visionary strategies for achieving deep systemic change” in areas such as energy policy and economic justice.
In this presentation, John detailed the growth of renewable energy and how new technologies and smart policies can lead to the downfall of the monopoly electric utility. You can view the video and slides below.
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- 3 Reasons Germans are Going Renewable ‘At All Costs’John Farrell
October 23, 2013Germany is racing past 20 percent renewable energy on its electricity grid, but news stories stridently warn that this new wind and solar power is costing “billions.” But often left out (or buried far from the lede) is the overwhelming popularity of the country’s relentless focus on energy change (energiewende).
1. It’s about the cost, not the price
Most news stories focus on the cost of electricity in Germany, which has some of the highest rates per kilowatt-hour in the world. But they don’t note that the average German electricity bill – about $100 a month – is the same as for most Americans. Germans are much more efficient users of energy than most, so they can afford higher rates without having higher bills. (Note to self: check out options for energy efficiency).
2. It’s about vision
Germany doesn’t just have an incremental approach to renewable energy, but a commitment supported by 84 percent of residents to get to 100% renewable energy “as quickly as possible.” A few U.S. states have renewable energy visions (e.g. 33% by 2020, 25% by 2025) that approach Germany’s, but they’re mired in the notion that despite enormous savings to society in terms of health and environmental benefits, renewable energy shouldn’t cost any more today than conventional, dirty energy on the utility bill. Germans have taken the long view (about energy security, price volatility, etc).
3. It’s about ownership
I lied in #1. Support for Germany’s renewable energy quest isn’t about cost of energy, but about the opportunity to own a slice of the energy system. Millions of Germans are building their retirement nest egg by individually or collectively owning a share of wind and solar power plants supplying clean energy to their communities. Nearly half of the country’s 63,000 megawatts of wind and solar power is owned locally, and these energy owners care as much about the persistence of renewable energy they own as they do about the energy bill they pay. Not only do these German energy owners reduce their own net cost of energy, every dollar diverted from a distant multinational utility company multiplies throughout their local economy….