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The Locavolt Movement: Pushing For Energy Independence
Julia Levitt, 15 Sep 08

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Peter Asmus at the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday on the "locavolt" movement. The growing trend is catching on in communities nationwide, where residents seek freedom from the energy grid through reliance on local generation points like solar panels, small wind turbines and even electric cars that can feed excess power back into the owner's system.

Bay-Area government is considering a plan that would allow its residents more freedom to choose options beyond those offered by giant provider Pacific Gas and Electric Co. As Asmus reports:

Within the next year or so, the Bay Area may bolster its locavolt credentials with a California program that allows local governments to choose power supplies for their constituents. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Marin County are all investigating a plan that would allow them to stay with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for billing, distribution and repair service, but allow local elected officials to choose more locally produced green power. In Marin County, for example, the long-term goal is 100 percent renewable energy.

The locavolt movement still faces numerous stumbling blocks, notably the hiccups and even long downtimes in naturally generated power that occur with changing seasons and weather conditions. And, as Asmus notes, there are bureaucratic challenges as well, including legal restrictions preventing residents who generate their own power from provide power to their neighbors. These types of policies, which serve the interest of major power companies, stand in the path of would-be community energy innovators.

Still, those who are determined to achieve energy independence are pushing forward, despite the frustrations of trial-and-error, and the high costs of investment in new technologies. As Asmus concludes:

If truth be known, the technology is now available to secure up to 40 percent of our electricity from local, distributed renewable energy sources like wind and sun, if we stay connected and get creative with storage from batteries, cars and maybe fuel cells. Something tells me the locavolts are on to something big.

Photo credit: flickr/briankusler, Creative Commons license.

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Comments

quintessentially local: efficiency and conservation. SF is all over this. support your neighborhood negawatts!

neighboring communities sharing energy over a better grid would also be local.


Posted by: hapa on 16 Sep 08



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