Yesterday, I testified before the City Council (specifically the Committee on Public Services & Consumer Affairs) at their public hearing on the Distributed Generation Amended Act of 2011. The Act would impose a requirement on local power companies that they purchase SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) from local solar providers in the city, for up to 2.5% of the power they provide to District residents by 2020. This Act would not cost a single tax dollar, but would spur innovation and create green jobs by creating a definable market for solar entrepreneurs in the District, not to mention spurring use of solar as a source of energy in the District (this will lead to the local creation of green jobs, environmental benefits associated with lowered burning of fossil fuels in the five major power plants within the city limits and will eventually make solar panels cheaper to install due to economies of scale and increased competition). This is a fine example of legislative policy creating a socially and economically beneficial market incentive. My testimony to the Committee is below:
Solar Power Testimony
Before the DC City Council
March 2, 2011
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Alan Page and I am the DC Statehood Green Party candidate for the At-Large City Council seat up for election on April 26th. Thank you for allowing me to testify.
The Distributed Generation Act is a key step forward in bringing the District closer to the green power revolution we must undertake to keep Earth livable for us all. Relying on fossil fuels primarily for our power in the District is destructive to the environment we depend upon to live. As a coastal city that contains two rivers in its borders, changes in water levels projected to occur as a result of global climate change could devastate the District if we do not do our part now to reduce carbon emissions and cut fossil fuel usage.
I advocate even more radical change than the Distributed Generation Act takes, but this is a key first step that must be supported. The Act seeks to have the District increase its reliance on solar energy to 2.5% of the energy consumed in our borders. This amount should be as high as 10%, but this is a positive step towards a stronger commitment to using renewable energy in the District.
There are several key reasons why we must reduce our reliance on carbon and increase our usage of renewable, natural energy sources like solar. One, our initial investment of $200 million to create an expanded solar grid will generate energy projected savings of $70 million a year starting in 2020 and every year afterwards. Why? Because solar energy does not have to be purchased. Unlike fossil fuels, it is provided for free by nature and requires no money to “extract” from the earth or transport. Two, increasing requirements regarding how much District energy must have a solar source will lead to the creation of up to 2,000 green jobs in the District created by solar firms laying the necessary panels to collect the newly mandated solar energy. We should also ensure that solar firms that enter into city contracts with the District commit to train and hire District residents to fill 50% of the employment slots created in conjunction with city-contracted projects. We commit to solar energy and solar firms should commit to our workers.
We can radically change the future of the District today, create much needed new jobs in fields that are projected to grow economically for decades, and improve the environment for our children. Make the right choice today. Vote yes on the Distributed Generation Act. The children are watching. And so are we.
(Photo by Martin Junius. Used under Creative Commons license)