Green Is in!

California is known for
leading the nation in many ventures, trends and movements, and 2009
is no different. In areas all across California, local and state
governments are supporting “greening” measures to help
the environment and raise accountability. Going hand-in-hand with the
loftier goal of cleaning house, proverbially, comes lucrative
spending contracts to update infrastructure. In Los Angeles alone,
SCE and the LADWP are working with Mayor Villaraigosa, to get on the
track to a goal of 20 percent renewable energy use in LA within only a
handful of years.

During the last week of
January, Governor Schwarzenegger voiced his support for tougher
environmental laws, asking for support from the federal government.
It may soon come to be that the more stringent California
environmental laws will be incorporated into federal law as well. The
governor and mayors across California have encouraged updates to
outdated energy and power infrastructure, with more earth-friendly
planning in mind. Mayor Villaraigosa started the Green LA project
less than two years ago, the goal of which is to get the city of Los
Angeles using renewable energy for at least 35 percent of all energy use by
2020, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in LA. Beyond the
pro-environmental implications of lowered greenhouse gas levels, the
Green LA initiative is very much pro-alternative energy, and includes
the Pine Tree Wind Farm, which is exactly what it sounds like: a
solar energy project.

A huge energy supplier
in Southern California, Southern California Edison may soon be the
face of alternative energy use in LA. Edison has been investing in
renewable energy research and efficient power use. According to SCE,
the major supplier already prides itself on being the largest
consumer of renewable energy, in the entire USA, including wind
power, biomass and solar, among other sources. SCE is also working on
what it describes as the most expansive wind power harnessing
project, the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. Heartening
also is the news that about $15 million may be invested by the
company in its power grids, to make the grids “greener and
smarter” for the more than 10 million customers SCE provides
power for.

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Department of Water &
Power, another major power player in LA, is engaging in very
pro-green projects, including Green Power for Green LA, which is also
a project that encourages alternative energy use. Some of the new
forms of suggested energy include water power, sun power and wind
power. SCE just recently also constructed solar power “rooftop
installation,” the completion of which was celebrated with a
visit by the governor himself (a Southern California resident, when
not in Sacramento.) Like SCE, the LADWP is interested in harnessing
the power of the wind to power LA home.

San Francisco is known
as a city nearly always on the cutting-edge of environmental
programs, and 2009 doesn’t appear to prove any different.
Already, the city may pride itself on one of the best public
transportation systems in California, in addition to the many
ambitious local programs that have been set in place to try to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Now, the city is encouraging residents to
“Go Solar.” GoSolarSF (in cooperation with the California
Solar Initiative) is an alternative energy program meant to
“encourage more installations of solar power in San Francisco.”
Through this program, businesses and homeowners who agree to switch
to solar power (at their own residences) residents can get rebates
through the city, state and federal funds to “pay half the cost
or more of a solar power system installed in San Francisco,”
running up to $4,000 for private homeowners and $10,000 for
businesses.

Solar photovoltaic power is another option for San
Francisco residents. According to the city of San Francisco, the
Moscone Center provides more than 2,000kW of solar power to the city.
Another step the San Francisco city government is taking to ensure
21st century sustainability is the Water System
Improvement Program, through the San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission. The aging water system of SF is indeed in need of repair.
The city is taking this opportunity both to update an outmoded
system, and make it more sustainable in the process.

In 2006, the governor
created the Million Solar Roofs Plan (aka the California Solar
Initiative), to provide more clean energy “and reduce the
output of greenhouse gages by three million tons.” $3.3 billion
will be put towards this pro-solar energy plan, with the hopes of
construction 1,000,000 rooftop solar installations within the next
decade. In the past, the governor has also encouraged the building of
a “Hydrogen Highway,” better water management and efforts
to lower our “carbon footprints.” In 2006, the governor
also oversaw the awarding of $1,000,000 to the University of
California, Davis to “create the nation’s first
university-based Center on Energy Efficiency,” with the
hoped-for result of creating future jobs and business incentives to
work in California.

It certainly is nice to
see state and local officials encouraging responsible energy use and
forward-thinking energy measures. Let’s just hope that the
money is spent reasonably, responsibly and yields some great results.