By Payam Zamani, Founder & CEO of California.com
I drove through Germany a few times in 2019 and was impressed with the number of windmills dotting the rural landscape. They were owned by the farmers, who are able to incorporate a business that supplies clean energy with traditional ranching.
In September, I drove through Minnesota for the first time and couldn’t believe how much Minnesota looks like Germany with its thousands of windmills. I had to look it up and was pleasantly surprised to find that 16 percent of Minnesota’s electricity now comes from windmills.
Likewise, California is adopting alternative energy sources. In 2018, California's non CO2 emitting electric generation categories (nuclear, large hydroelectric, and renewables) accounted for 53 percent of its generation. That truly is amazing!
California also allows for Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) - local governments can procure power on behalf of their residents from alternative energy suppliers and still receive transmission and distribution from the utility companies, such as PG&E. Customers have the option to choose how much green energy they will receive and often times it’s a cheaper option. Communities now have control over how much green energy they use and communities can gain leverage to negotiate better rates since there are more energy source options. California now has 21 operational CCAs in California serving over 10 million customers.
Currently, only a few states provide this option: California, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Making It Easy to Go Green
There are advantages to not just saving in monthly energy costs, but you can take advantage of tax incentives and solar installation rebates. The federal tax credit currently allows you to claim up to 26% of the total cost you paid to install solar panels from your annual federal taxes.
One Planet Group, which owns California.com, installed 90 solar panels from Tesla on its headquarters building this past summer. The switch to solar power will reduce the company’s dependence on the grid by 65 percent.
Coming Together To Make The Switch To Clean Energy
We are at a point in our technological advancement where clean energy is not only a possibility but a scalable solution to our energy needs. I applaud states like California and Minnesota for recognizing the need to care for the planet and knowing very well how to do it without the risk of losing jobs or taking on an anti-business approach. Caring for the planet is, in fact, a great business opportunity with two highly attractive bottom lines.
The United States may have left the Paris Climate Agreement, but several states and corporations are still pushing the agenda and have made their own commitments to action to combat climate change. Frankly, I think caring for the planet requires people to choose to do the right thing. This requires a change of heart and a change in priorities - and it is happening.
I’m aware that some people do not believe the science on climate change, but what harm can it do in the long term to be proactively cautious when it comes to taking care of our planet? We know what can go wrong if the science is right and we ignore the warnings.
No segment of the world population should think their own well-being is in isolation from the whole. We see it happen all the time - politicians not wanting regulations for fracking or coal because they want votes from a particular state while knowing very well the consequences of the choice. Often there seems to be a stubborn commitment to the old ways of doing things while there are alternative choices and alternative jobs that are much more attractive and more in line with modern-day American life. For example, there is now more growth in solar and wind energy jobs than there is in the oil industry in Texas. We really should embrace them. Why wouldn’t we? Often, they even pay better than their traditional alternatives.
Problems are not going to get solved unless we approach them with unity and proper consultation so everyone’s needs are taken into account. California’s ambitious climate plan is one that can be modeled, for as Cara Horowitz, co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law, said:
“Part of the secret sauce of California's climate policy is … there really isn't one single silver bullet that California has relied on to craft its climate policy,” she said. “Instead, California also has a mix of standards, investments, and an attention to climate justice.”
It would be great if California’s attention and action on climate change can breakthrough in the national consciousness. While California’s approach is unique to California, much can be learned from the state’s actions with alternative energy and business incentives. For the sake of the planet, we need great ideas regardless of where they may come from.