Here in the Sierra Nevada, we have a saying: “If you don’t like the weather, wait a while, it’ll change.” One could expound on this maxim: If there’s something you’re not liking about the world, wait a while, it’ll change. There’s an important caveat, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Boy oh boy, with regard to this month’s news feature story, have things changed over the past decade. An ever-louder drumbeat for renewable/clean energy in the region has reached fever-pitch in the form of a lofty goal of complete dominance. Truckee and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows recently announced they plan to be running on 100 percent clean electricity as of 2030 and the end of this year, respectively (p. 12). Just over a decade ago, this idea was considered ludicrous.
Picture this: People were “nervous about coal” in Truckee at Christmastime 2006 as the Truckee Donner Public Utility District considered a 50-year contract for coal-fired power (See Nervous about Coal this Christmas, published Dec. 13, 2006). The goal was to lock in low rates for ratepayers, but enough opposition was raised to what was seen as an archaic and environmentally unsound source of power, to send the district back to the drawing board.
At the same time, the power supplier was also looking to adopt a goal of 20 percent renewables by the end of 2012 — at that moment, such power represented only two percent of available electricity in the nation, so it was considered an ambitious objective. Today, as reported in this month’s news feature story, TDPUD reports that more than 60 percent of its energy mix is from renewables. Wowzas!
Consider also, at that time, the state of California had a goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2017. Today, the state legislature is considering a goal of 100 percent by 2045. How can this be?
Here’s where that important proviso comes in and to bring you to it, I’m going back to the weather analogy. Yes, the Sierra climate transforms quickly, but you and I are also given power to affect change: Wash your car and it’s sure to snow.
In today’s noisy and populous world, it often seems your solitary voice makes no difference. This has led to voter apathy (regardless, please get prepared, here), a turn toward looking out for numero uno (fight the urge, see here), and a sense of powerlessness (cure: a meaningful adventure with friends, here and here). But, in 2006, concerned local citizens mobilized and changed the course of our community’s energy resources. If more people engage in a behavior that dictates what is needed to meet demand then, at least in our capitalistic society, change in the supply line happens. Think cars. Organic food. Online shopping.
As local utility providers roll out programs to let you choose renewable energy (again, see here), I urge you to take hold of your power to affect change. Choose to pay the premium now because I guarantee, if more and more of us do, in another decade prices will have gone down and what we see today as a special-case elective will have become status quo. Wouldn’t that be something?
P.S. Might I also suggest you help bring about a Miracle March by washing your car (because who knew, parrots like skiing, here).