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Green Party for cutting taxpayer subsidies to big oil

GREEN PARTY

GREENS  PUBLISH OIL INDUSTRY SUBSIDY FIGURE, PUSH FOR DECOMMISSIONING ROLE FOR INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND

Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party's campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, today (14 Sep) has published new figures which for the first time estimate the public subsidy behind big oil company profits.

The campaign has also published a detailed report by a leading oil finance author, showing the options an independent Scotland would have to position itself as a world leader in offshore decommissioning and publicly owned renewables.

The subsidy figure reveals that oil companies receive around £1billion worth of tax breaks from the UK Government every year - that's roughly £190 from every Scot.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

"As Scotland debates its future, discussion over oil has tended to focus on extracting every last drop and burning it, when we know we simply can't afford to do that for economic and environmental reasons. What has also been overlooked is the huge subsidy we're all giving the big oil companies. Now that figure's out in the open we should consider the logic of continuing such massive tax breaks.

"Big oil companies are already throwing their weight around as the vote nears, and an independent Scotland should be prepared to stand up to that. If Scotland remains part of the UK we will struggle to assert control; with a Yes we can build a genuinely sustainable economy, reducing our reliance on a declining industry and instead growing the clean technology of the future."

(Ends)

£1bn subsidy figure explained:
www.scottishgreens.org.uk/oil-and-gas-taxation

We place the average tax break at around £1.15 billion per annum for the entire UK Continental Shelf. The Scottish proportion of this is approximately 90 per cent or roughly £1.05 billion per year. The 90:10 split is based on Scotland's geographical share and commonly used.

This total figure is an estimate based on a combination of Government and industry estimates but very limited data.

The Green Yes graphic includes illustrations of what £1 billion could deliver instead of subsidising oil industry profits: more renewables, childcare, 25,000 extra teachers, 28,000 extra nurses.

Green Yes Energy Independence briefing - report by Mika Minio-Paluello:
http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2014/09/Energy-independence-Green-Yes-briefing.pdf


Jason Rose
Head of Media
Scottish Greens

14 sep 14 @ 9:27 am edt          Comments

Rick Mullins Independent Green Party for State Senate 38th District

Rick Mullins is Independent Greens candidate in State Senate Special election.

"Rick Mullins is the positive solution for Virginia's State Senate in the 38th District special election."  said Carey Campbell, Independent Green Party state executive committee.  

"Rick Mullins is a successful businessman, husband, father, and grandfather. Rick Mullins brings the energy and optimism Virginia needs for new jobs. " Joseph P. Oddo, Independent Green Party State Chairman.  

"Rick Mullins is right. Healthcare for every Virginia must be a priority."  Gail for Rail Parker, Independent Green Party state Vice Chair.  

"Rick Mullins, The Independent Green Party is proud to endorse Rick Mullins for State Senate!"  Retired U.S. Navy Captain Ron Fisher, Independent Green Party state central committee.  

"Rick Mullins will bring jobs to our community. Rick Mullins proves he is a job creator."  George R. "Tex" Wood.  Independent Green Party 9th Congressional District Chairman.    

 

Vote Rick Mullins August 19th for State Senate 38th District!  

 

 

 

  

18 aug 14 @ 9:08 pm edt          Comments

Green Party - Eco for the Economy key to success

ECO FOR THE ECONOMY MEANS SUCCESS 

WRITTEN BY

  • JuergenTrittin

    Jürgen Trittin, Green Party

    Former Chairman of the Green parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Juergen served 7 years as federal environment minister, current member of federal legislature

 

Complaints by European industry lobbyists’ is that energy costs are putting them at a “destructive” competitive disadvantage simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Industry lobbyists will say either that the costs of labour are too high, or that their big problem is the price of energy. America’s historically low gas prices are at present the cause of yet more European moaning.

But it’s a lament that rarely holds up under examination of the facts. All too often, these complaints are part of a lobbying campaign that is essentially political. And when that’s not the case, we usually find there’s a lot of money at stake in industries that are reluctant to invest in adjusting to future challenges. And even when corporate leaders know that these investments are necessary, a majority of them still believe the cost should be paid by the taxpayer. That leads them to threaten using their deadliest weapon, the threat of job cuts and the relocation abroad of their factories and production operations.

The facts show how wrong they are. Energy costs account on average for less than 3% of gross production costs in Germany, whereas staffing costs account for about 20%. Even if you look at shares of gross value creation, the energy costs don’t exceed the 10% mark. Yet, industrial lobbies and trade associations continue to prophesy the end of the Western world.

“The real risks to competitiveness lie elsewhere. All of Europe is dependent on fossil fuel imports, and not just from Russia”

People, especially in Germany, like to hold the costs of the ambitious transformation of our energy system – theEnergiewende” – responsible for rising energy prices. This is mainly in relation to electricity prices, as oil is traded globally and the oil price for companies, say, in America is structured identically.

But the price of electricity for industry in countries like Germany has actually decreased in recent years. Electricity prices at the EEX energy exchange in Leipzig are now at their lowest point for eight years. This can be attributed mainly to the huge expansion of renewables, and also to the surplus of cheap coal-fired electricity, which in turn is causing CO2 emissions to soar, along with the costs of unchecked climate change.

Apologists for waning industrial competitiveness fall silent once a closer look is taken at the current account balance of payments. For years, praise for Germany as the world’s export champion has been just as loud as complaints that industry’s electricity prices are too high. Of course, the two don’t add up. Compared to the rest of the EU, Germany’s electricity prices have always been slightly higher, but this hasn’t stopped us from chalking up economic growth and trade surpluses, while also hugely reducing energy intensity and primary energy consumption by more than 35% over the last 25 years.

“If we continue burning coal, oil and gas for as long as it remains affordable, then we can kiss our climate goodbye”

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has rightly pointed out that once again Germany has disproved the theory that “low energy prices equal reindustrialisation”. In spite of slightly higher comparative industrial electricity prices, the Federal Republic of Germany has for several years being seeing reindustrialisation. The driving forces behind this are chiefly efficient environmental and renewable energy technologies. Looking at Europe as a whole, 2013 was the year when the eurozone had the largest current account surpluses since 1997.

The industry lobby nevertheless continues to complain, largely because of developments in the U.S. energy market. The U.S. may have been able to curb energy prices through the aggressive exploitation of shale gas reserves, but for society as a whole, the effect of those efforts when measured in terms of the environmental aftermath and the failure to modernise, has been horrifyingly negative.

It now looks as if the real reason behind the lobbying campaign by various industries is the upcoming decision on what targets to set for Europe’s post-2020 CO2 emissions reduction, even though these are unlikely to be very ambitious. Instead of a 40% decrease, the bare minimum should be a 55% reduction in the EU by 2030 if we want to uphold the 2°C target. But this isn’t looking promising, and doubtless we will have to foot the bill for this lack of resolve in a few years’ time.

The real risks to competitiveness lie elsewhere. All of Europe is dependent on fossil fuel imports, and not just from Russia. Every year, Europe imports €.5 trillion worth of coal, oil and gas, along with uranium. Some 84% of the oil used in the EU is from outside of its borders, and for uranium, the figure is 100%, of which a fifth comes from Russia. For natural gas, the import figure is 45%.

The European Union is thus indulging in a prosperity transfer of absurd proportions. This dependency is a real challenge, especially as Europe’s scope for diplomatic action in its dealings with Russia proved to be very limited when it came to the breach of international law in Ukraine. Europe’s sovereignty is endangered by its staggering reliance on imports, and it is certainly not in the interest of industries to be reliant for their energy upon unreliable partners. If we want to break away, though, we must try to counteract our import dependence. One proposed solution is hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” of shale for gas, but it’s a particularly dubious idea, and not just from an environmental viewpoint. It is not an option for Europe, and to suggest that a battle with the U.S. over energy prices can be won by increasing the exploitation of Western Europe’s fossil reserves is very naive.

The key issue at hand isn’t the availability of fossil fuels; adequate energy supplies are still available, with many yet to be discovered, so we can, if we choose, continue down the misguided path of fossil-based production and energy supply for another 100 years or so without seeing an exorbitant price explosion. The environmental problem is a far more serious one. If we continue burning coal, oil and gas for as long as it remains affordable, then we can kiss our climate goodbye.

The true limit in using finite natural resources doesn’t lie in their availability. It lies in the fact that extracting, using and burning them is causing catastrophic environmental damage worldwide. If you convert the 2°C climate protection target into quantities of CO2 that we can still actually emit globally, you have a “budget” of around 800 gigatons. Put simply, from that standpoint not even half of the reserves of oil, gas and coal which could be extracted today can even be burnt.

We must counter the battle cry of Tea Party activists in the U.S. of “Drill, Baby, Drill” with a counter-cry of “Chill, Baby, Chill”! Leave the stuff where it is; underground. On top of this, there are other natural resources whose use and extraction also relate to the climate crisis. Producing and processing steel, cement, paper, plastic and aluminium, accounts for around half of industrial CO2 emissions. Unconventional extraction of oil and gas is ecologically harmful for many other reasons as well. It consumes far more energy and water than conventional extraction, and it damages the environment and groundwater at the site of extraction. Oil sands extraction in Canada accounts for 40% of Canadian CO2 emissions, with fracking also consuming huge quantities of water.

Mining, which is sharply increasing around the world, is generally connected with destruction of the countryside, the production of slag and waste, and energy and water consumption. Air is polluted, soil contaminated, forests axed, seas contaminated by deep-sea drilling, countryside destroyed by opencast mines. This isn’t the worst dependency, because for a host of resources just a few countries, sometimes only one, control the market. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, supplies around half of the cobalt extracted worldwide, that we need for batteries, smartphones or electric cars. The working conditions there are life-threatening and exploitative, so we cannot import this resource with a clear conscience. 

 

“The expansion of renewables will stabilise electricity prices, increase security of supply and lower the downstream costs of climate change and high-risk technologies like nuclear power”

The American focus solely on increasing the gas supply will not solve any problems for Europe; at best it delays them by a few years. Worse, it results in increased energy consumption and at the same time reduces the incentives for energy efficiency and energy savings. Right now, a temporary increase in supply from the U.S. as the future main gas exporter could exert downward pressure on world gas prices, including in Europe, but in the medium-term, the upshot will be a greater thirst for energy. In any case, quenching energy demands will not be easy, while rising COemissions will exacerbate climate change on an ever more massive scale. It should be clear that the U.S. hasn’t found a solution, but instead another global time bomb.

The answer to the challenges facing Europe’s competitiveness can be summed up in four steps. First, the expansion of renewables will stabilise electricity prices, increase security of supply and lower the downstream costs of climate change and high-risk technologies like nuclear power. And, second, by raising energy efficiency we will lower the already relatively low share of gross production costs that result from energy costs, and we’ll be leveraging our technological edge systematically to expand Europe’s market position.

Third, significant savings can come from modernising buildings to make them more energy efficient, and by reducing vehicle energy consumption. As well as these savings, there are huge investment possibilities, especially for medium-sized enterprises, and there are also innovation possibilities for Europe’s carmakers. Finally, the need to become less dependent on energy imports is clear. That would keep value-added inside the EU, and do much to bring about the stable prices, reliable overall conditions and technological innovation that industry has been calling for. These are the real competitiveness factors.

Photo credit: iene.eu

CLIMATE CHANGE COMPETITIVENESS ENERGY POLICY INDUSTRIAL POLICY RENEWABLES

Commentary

Agreed; but surely the basic problem is EU states’ divergent energy policies

Energy prices are key to the EU economy and the overall well-being of society. As well as factors like productivity, innovation, labour costs and the legal environment, energy prices are an important indicator of an economy’s competitiveness, which is why this issue has gained momentum over the last few years. It is also a highly sensitive topic that’s often dominated by ideology and caricatures. So there is a critical need for reality checks and independent analysis based on facts and figures. To better understand the complex challenges addressed by Jürgen Trittin, and to get a clearer picture of the real costs of energy transitions in Europe, a few preliminary clarifications seem called for.

Jürgen Trittin is right about a number of the issues that need emphasis. High energy prices are not only by driven environmental regulation but by taxes and levies, and also by transportation and fossil fuel costs, with the latter representing a growing part of the EU’s trade deficits. The energy price debate also goes far beyond the U.S. shale gas picture, for although there are clear EU-U.S. price differentials for gas, shale isn’t a silver bullet that will decrease energy prices in Europe. If fossil fuels have a role to play in Europe’s energy transition, it will be mainly as a bridge technology: I say that confidently because the actions needed to tackle climate change cannot wait until present resources are totally depleted before others are developed that can ensure the energy transition.

A point Jürgen Trittin misses, though, is the diversity of energy profiles and realities within the EU. The EU’s internal energy market has to some extent contained energy price increases, especially for wholesale electricity markets, but nevertheless clear it is that energy in Europe will not be cheap for the foreseeable future. There are also huge disparities still to be addressed between EU member states, and within industries. Most German manufacturing companies spend an average of 1.6% of their turnover on energy, but for industries like aluminum, steel, cement, paper, chemicals and glass, anywhere between 10% and 25% of their sales revenue is accounted for by energy inputs.

Germany’s “Energiewende”, is often hailed, perhaps too often, as ‘the’ reference for a successful energy transition, and Jürgen Trittin himself advances that argument. Certainly it’s an impressive project, with huge implications for Germany, for its neighbours and for the EU as a whole, but it a unique case that cannot easily be duplicated in other countries. Lessons need to be drawn from both its successes and failures. Developing renewable energy technologies on a large scale in Germany and elsewhere in the EU has yielded many benefits, as Trittin rightly points out, but it has also raised issues that need to be addressed thoroughly, notably the integration of renewables into the market and into the grid.

Some industries in Europe have improved their energy intensity to an impressive degree, but in several areas there is still much progress to be made. Efficiency technologies are key to the EU’s ability to cope with high energy prices while achieving its energy transition. There is still a wide gap between expectation and reality, with much untapped potential in economies of scale and the improvement of existing technologies. EU countries in central and eastern Europe still behind, and need greater EU support if they are to reach the European average.

The key challenge is going to be the level of the EU’s ambition for becoming a low-carbon economy, and doing so in a cost-effective way. As well as being a question of political will, economic strategy, and industrial vision it’s going to need a strong consensus within the EU on who should pay for what in Europe’s energy transition.

17 jun 14 @ 8:35 am edt          Comments

Indy Green Party's Tammy Prada and Floyd Bayne laid path for Brat victory

Indy Green Party's Tammy Parada and Floyd Bayne laid path for Cantor upset, and Brat victory

Today's Washington Post gives Independent Green Party leaders Tammy Parada, and Floyd Bayne credit for laying the path to Cantor's upset in Virginia's 7th District, and the Brat Victory.

The Independent Green Party has put candidates on the ballot in the 7th for years. Dr. Brad Blanton ran twice. As did Floyd Bayne. 

 

Floyd Bayne was the Independent Green Party candidate for congress in the 7th District in 2010. Tammy Parada managed Floyd Baynes Independent Green Party campaigns.  Floyd Bayne ran again in 2012.  

To quote today's Washington Post, " Many Bayne supporters would go on to become organizers for Dave Brat.  Bayne's campaign manager became Brat's independent campaign consultant (and Chesterfield county coordinator) who designed Brats election model."  

The Independent Green Party sends our congrats to Independent Green Party leaders Tammy Prada, and Floyd Bayne.  

In 2014 the Independent Green Party has filed a few thousand petition signatures with the state board of elections to put our Tareq Salahi in the 7th district race in November.   Stay tuned. 

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/06/13/im-a-democrat-and-i-helped-the-tea-party-unseat-eric-cantor/ 

13 jun 14 @ 12:52 pm edt          Comments

Indy Green Party submits "More Trains Less Traffic" Gandino petitions
Independent Green Party submits "More Trains, Less Traffic" petition signatures in Virginia's third congressional district to put Justin Gandino-Saadein on the ballot.
 
The Indy Green Party is Virginia's most successful on ballot third party in the commonwealth in 100 years. 

Independent Green Party 
contact: 703-338-0200
 
"We are confident our Indy Green Party More Trains, Less Traffic petition signatures will be sufficient to get Justin on the ballot."
Indy Green Party State Chairman Joseph P. Oddo,
 
" Justin assured us he supported "More Trains, Less Traffic!" before we began our petition drive."
 
Indy Green Party state Vice Chair Gail for Rail Parker, " Rail is one million times safer than auto travel. Rail saves lives."
Highway travel killed 34,000 Americans in 2013, and injured about 340,000 Americans.
 
Captain Ron Fisher (retired USN), Indy Green Party central committee, "Rail makes money. Rail pays for itself. Every dollar invested in rail creates 21 dollars in economic benefit."

Dianne Blais, Indy Green Party candidate for the 10th congressional District., " We need high speed rail, across Virginia and America. Rail provides national security. Rail cuts dependence on foreign oil. Rail allows for evacuation in an emergency."
 
Dr. Ken Hildebrandt, Indy Green Party candidate in the 5th congressional District, "Indy Green Party rail increases the value of our homes, businesses, and communities."

Gerry Blais, Indy Green Party 8th congressional district candidate, "Rail grows revenue for our schools, police, and fire departments." 
Tareq Salahi, Indy Green Party 7th congressional district candidate, "We can build dedicated passenger track on Virginia Rail Express (VRE) for a fraction of cost of roads."

Elaine Hildebrandt, Indy Green Party candidate in the 6th congressional district, "We need High Speed Rail in the interstate corridor from Winchester, through Stafford, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, and Roanoke, to Bristol."

Dr. Joseph Galdo, Green Party, supports the Indy Green Party Green New deal calling for solar jobs, wind jobs, geothermal jobs, rail jobs, conservation jobs "..Solar for our schools". 

Join the Independent Green Party today!
703-338-0200

This year the Indy Green Party has already succeeded in petition drives placing congressional candidates on the ballot in almost all of Virginia's districts.
9 jun 14 @ 8:36 pm edt          Comments

Dr. Joseph Galdo Green Party confirmed on ballot

Dr. Joseph Galdo Green Party confirmed on the ballot for congress in Virginia's 11th congressional district

Dr. Joseph Galdo, Green Party, Indy Green Party endorsee for congress in Virginia's 11th congressional District.  

Joe Galdo, Green Party, endorsed by Independent Green Party to promote More Trains, Less Traffic.  Rail saves lives. Rail grows the economy. Eco for the economy. Rail increases the value of our homes and business. Rail grows revenue for schools, police, and fire departments. 

Join Joe Galdo's Green Party campaign - eco for the economy!

The Green New Deal: Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Rail jobs. Conservation jobs. 

Join the Independent Green Party today!

http://www.votejoinrun.us/

703-351-1235 

9 jun 14 @ 8:27 pm edt          Comments

Dianne Blais Indy Green Party confirmed on the ballot

Dianne Blais Indy Green Party confirmed on the ballot for congress in 10th district

Dianne Blais Independent Green Party confirmed on the ballot by state board of elections in the 10th congressional district!

Dianne Blais, Indy Green Party, wife, mother, grandmother, successful business woman, foster parent. 

Dianne Blais and the Indy Green Party are for More Trains, Less Traffic. Build rail to save lives. Indy Green Party Green New Deal. Rail jobs. Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Conservation jobs. Join Dianne Blais and the Indy Green Party today! 

Dianne joins her son Gerry on the ballot for Congress.

Dianne Blais in the 10th district.  

Gerry Blais in the 8th district.  

The Blais Independent Green Party family on the ballot to provide positive, constructive Green Party solutions.     

9 jun 14 @ 8:21 pm edt          Comments

Gerry Blais Independent Green Party makes ballot for Congress

Gerry Blais Indy Green Party confirmed on ballot

The Independent Green Party completes another successful congressional petition drive. Virginia's state board of elections informed Gerry Blais that his petition drive to get on the ballot for congress in the 8th congressional district had succeeded.  

Gerard "Gerry" Blais Jr (34) is a husband, father, and successful businessman.  

Gerry Blais has a masters degree from George Mason University in environmental defense.

Gerry Blais, Independent Green Party 8th congressional district nominee, calls for "More Trains, Less Traffic!"  

Gerry Blais says we need to build rail to Ft. Belvior.  Build a new passenger rail tunnel under the potomac to solve the orange crush congestion. Build Columbia Pike Rail.    

The Independent Green Party and Gerry Blais call for bringing troops and tax dollars home.  

Indy Green Party state Chairman Joseph P. Oddo, "Do not waste another $89 billion tax dollars in Afghanistan for two more years. Bring those young Americans, and those tax dollars home now!"

Gerry Blais, "We need an auditable accounting system at the pentagon. Every other federal agency produces auditable financial statements.  Yet at DoD, where most of our tax dollars are spent, there is no auditable accounting system."

Gerry Blais and the Indy Green Party call for building the Potomac Yard metrorail station.  Build the Cameron Station Virginia Rail Express (VRE) stop.  Put electronic signs for VRE trains at major intersections near VRE train stops.  

Gerry Blais and the Indy Green Party support High Speed Maglev rail in the interstate corridor along existing right of way.

Gerry Blais, "Rail saves lives. Rail grows our economy. Rail pays for itself".  

Gerry Blais, "Virginia Rail Express needs new dedicated passenger track, so we can run trains with the same frequency of Metrorail."

Gerry Blais, Indy Green Party, "We need electronic VRE signs at intersections near every stop, so people can see when the next train runs." 

Gerry Blais and the Indy Green Party support the Columbia Pike Rail.  The most recent Columbia Pike Rail study shows that new rail line will create $7 billion dollars in economic growth.

"Eco for the Economy is a winner for all Americans." Gerry Blais, Independent Green Party.  

Gerry Blais is part of the Independent Green Party's mother and son team.

Gerry Blais is the Indy Green Party nominee in the 8th congressional district.

Dianne Blais is mother to Gerry Blais.  

Dianne Blais is the Independent Green Party nominee in the 10th congressional district.  

Dianne Blais has filed her petition signatures, and candidate forms with the state board of elections.  

Dianne Blais is not yet confirmed on the ballot.

If, and when Dianne Blais also makes the ballot for congress, the Independent Green Party believes it will make history in Virginia.

Dianne Blais and Gerry Blais would be the first ever mother and son team to be on the ballot for U.S. Congress at the same time in two different districts in Virginia. 

Independent Green Party's Mother & Son team. Dianne (Mother), and Gerry (Son) Blais for "More Trains, Less Traffic!".  We need more trains, less traffic. The Independent Green Party Blais family: "Rail saves lives!"    Rail is safer, and more secure. Indy Green Party rail enhances national security. Rail makes it possible to evacuate quickly in an emergency. Indy Green Party rail increases the value of our homes, businesses, and communities. Rail creates jobs. Rail grows revenue for our schools, police, and fire departments. Indy Green Party rail is the positive solution.  Gerry and Dianne Blais are for Eco for the Economy - the Indy Green Party Green New Deal.  Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Weatherization jobs. Rail jobs. Conservation jobs. Join Gerry, Dianne, and the Indy Green Party today!

https://www.youtube.com/user/IndependentGreens

contact: 703-351-1235

Be an Indy Green Party candidate for local, state, or federal office. 

30 may 14 @ 10:06 am edt          Comments

Dr. Ken Hildebrandt Independent Green Party confirmed on ballot for Congress

Indy Green Party 5th District Chair Dr. Ken Hildebrandt running for More Trains, Less Traffic!

Dr. Ken Hildebrandt, Independent Green Party 5th Congressional District Chairman, confirmed on the ballot for congress.  

Dr. Ken Hildebrandt and Independent Green Party are for more trains, less traffic.  

Dr. Hildbrandt and the Indy Green Party say to Build Rail Now!

Rail saves lives. Rail cuts dependence on foreign oil.

Rail makes us safer and more secure. Rail is vital for national security. Indy Green Party Rail is the positive solution.  

High Speed Rail statewide in the interstate corridor. Light rail in our cities. Dedicated passenger track for Virginia Rail Express (VRE). Rail to every part of Virginia.  Danville, Lynchburg, Charlottesvile, Martinsville.  

Dr. Hildebrandt and the Indy Green Party are for Eco for the economy. Indy Green Party Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Conservation jobs. Weatherization jobs. 

Indy Green Party Rail - advocated by Dr. Ken Hildebrandt - grows the value of our homes, businesses, and communities.  Rail creates revenue for our schools, police, and fire departments.  Rail is the positive solution.

Dr. Ken Hildbrandt is the Independent Green Party nominee in the 5th congressional district.

Ken Hildebrandt is Elaine Hildebrandt's husband.

The Hildebrandts are an Independent Green Party family.   

Elaine Hildebrandt is collecting signatures to get on the ballot as the Independent Green Party candidate in the 6th congressional district.  

Elaine Hildebrandt is a retired school teacher. Elaine Hildebrandt is expected to file her candidate forms, and petition signatures Monday.

If Elaine Hildebrandt makes the ballot in the 6th congressional district for the Independent Green Party it would be a historic achievement.

Elaine Hildebrandt, and Dr. Ken Hildebrandt would be the first husband and wife team to be on the ballot at the same time for congress in two different districts in Virginia.  

Join the Independent Green Party family today!  Be an Indy Green Party candidate for local, state, or federal office. Be part of the positive Indy Green party solution.     

 

 

29 may 14 @ 5:04 pm edt          Comments

Gail for Rail Indy Green Party makes ballot for Congress!!!
Gail for Rail Parker Indy Green Party on the ballot 
 
Independent Green Party leader Gail for Parker has made the ballot for U.S. Congress in Virginia's first district, according to the state board of elections.  
 
Gail for Rail Parker is the elected Independent Green Party state Vice-Chair.  A retired U.S. Air Force officer, Gail for Rail was first elected state Vice Chair of the Indy Green Party in 2005.  
 
Gail for Rail is a mother, grandmother, retired executive, and successful businesswoman. This is the tenth year in a row the Indy Green Party has put Gail for Rail on the ballot for local, federal, or state office.
 
Gail for Rail Parker (IG) is the only woman in Virginia history to appear twice on the ballot state wide for U.S. Senate.  
The Independent Green Party and conservative Green Gail for Rail call for More Trains, Less Traffic.  More Trains. More Tracks. More often. Rail saves lives. Rail makes money.
 
Gail for Rail Parker and the Indy Green Party call for dedicated passenger track for Virginia Rail Express. High Speed Rail in the interstate corridor. 
 
Gail for Rail Parker urges you.  
 
Join the Independent Green Party today!
 
 
http://www.votejoinrun.us/
Contact: 703-351-1235
Be an Indy Green Party candidate for local, state, or federal office.
28 may 14 @ 8:34 am edt          Comments

Tareq Salahi elected Independent Green Party District Chairman
The Independent Green Party of Virginia elects Tareq Salahi to state central committee.  Tareq Salahi will serve as a congressional district chairman on the Indy Green Party statewide committee. Tareq Salahi and the Indy Green Party are the most active on ballot third party presence in 100 years.  The Indy Green Party is dedicated to, "More Trains, Less Traffic". 

Tareq Salahi, Indy Green Party, "Rail is the positive solution. Eco for the economy." 

Tareq Salahi, Indy Green Party, "Build Rail Now!  Because rail saves lives. 34,000 Americans were killed on highways last year. 330,000 were injured. Indy Green Party Rail makes us safer and more secure. Indy Green Party Rail enhances national security by cutting dependence on foreign oil.  Green Party Rail allows for speedy evacuation in an emergency. Rail makes money. Green Party rail increases the value of our homes, businesses, and community. "

http://www.votejoinrun.us/
Independent Green Party web site

https://www.youtube.com/user/IndependentGreens
Independent Green Party Youtube channel

Join the Independent Green Party and Tareq Salahi today!  Be part of the positive Indy Green Party solution.  Be and Indy Green Party candidate for local, state, or federal office.

contact: 703-351-1235
27 may 14 @ 8:24 am edt          Comments

Indy Green Party supports Northeast Maglev

http://northeastmaglev.com/

Indy Green Party for Northeast Maglev Train

We need "More Trains, Less Traffic"!  

Northeast Maglev is a winner for America.

The Northeast Maglev (TNEM) is a U.S.-owned company based in Washington, DC. We are committed to bringing the revolutionary Superconducting Maglev (SCMAGLEV) to the Northeast Corridor, the most congested transportation region in the country.

TNEM is working closely with the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), which has led development of the SCMAGLEV system since its formation in 1987. JR Central also operates the world’s premier high-speed rail line between Tokyo and Osaka, serving more than 140 million passengers a year. 

GREEN TECHNOLOGY

AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY HIGH-SPEED SOLUTION

SCMAGLEV will reduce congestion on our roads and in the sky, resulting in less pollution. With no “rail noise” and reduced CO2 emissions, it is one of the greenest travel systems available.

Because SCMAGLEV trains levitate inches off of the ground, there is no noise or vibration generated by the familiar interaction between steel wheels and rails. There are no dirty diesel engines as trains are propelled by electricity from substations, and its lightweight, aerodynamic design further reduces energy consumption. In Japan, the CO2 emissions of the SCMAGLEV is estimated to be just one-third of a Boeing 777 airplane.

And you can feel good about your transportation choice knowing that the SCMAGLEV meets stringent environmental guidelines for magnetic fields recommended by the World Health Organization. 

Learn more at this link.

http://northeastmaglev.com/ 

27 apr 14 @ 11:42 am edt          Comments

Green Party elects 14 different Mayors in Bavaria on Sunday

Green Party makes History - Green Party elects 14 Mayors in single day.

"Ein historischer Abend": Erstmals stellen die Grünen in Bayern zwei Landräte. Im Affären-Landkreis Miesbach setzt sich Wolfgang Rzehak durch. In Miltenberg am Main gewinnt Jens Marco Scherf. Die Konkurrenz von der CSU ist fassungslos.

Von Olaf Przybilla und Christian Sebald

Damit dürfte im Landkreis Miesbach wohl kaum einer gerechnet haben - die Region, in der die CSU stets Traumergebnisse von 60 Prozent plus holt, wird nun von einem Grünen-Landrat regiert. Der 46 Jahre alte Wolfgang Rzehak gewann die Stichwahl am Sonntag souverän mit 53,5Prozent. So freudig überrascht waren Rzehak und seine MiesbacherParteifreunde, dass erst einmal keiner von ihnen ans Handy ging.

Sie feierten wohl unter sich. Immerhin, die Grünen-Landeschefin Sigi Hagl meldete sich sofort zu Wort. "Für uns Grüne ist das ein historischer Abend", sagte sie. "Das erste Mal stellen wir Landräte, und das sogar in zwei Landkreisen." Die Partei hatte in einem Bündnis mit SPD und Parteifreien überraschend auch im unterfränkischen Miltenberg den Landratsposten geholt. In Miesbach galt eigentlich Rzehaks Konkurrent Norbert Kerkel (Freie Wähler), als klarer Favorit. Er kam auf 46,6 Prozent. Die Wahlbeteiligung lag immerhin bei 43,6 Prozent.

Natürlich könnte man es sich jetzt leicht machen und sagen, die Miesbacher haben halt denjenigen Kandidaten gewählt, der ihnen als das kleinere Übel erschienen ist. Denn nach dem Abgang ihres Affären-Landrats Jakob Kreidl(CSU) konnte man überall in der sehr konservativen Region hören, die beiden verbliebenen Bewerber Rzehak und Kerkel seien gewiss sehr sympathische Männer.

Aber das fachliche Rüstzeug, den Landkreis Miesbach in eine gute Zukunft zu führen, das habe in Wirklichkeit doch weder der eine noch der andere. Etliche CSUler, darunter auch gestandene Bürgermeister und andere Mandatsträger, sollen deshalb in so massive Gewissensnöte geraten sein, dass sie zum ersten Mal überhaupt in ihrer Vita ernsthaft überlegt haben, einer Wahl fern zu bleiben.

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/kommunalwahl-in-bayern-hier-regiert-kuenftig-gruen-1.1925412 

 

  • Premiere für die Grünen in Bayern: Gleich zwei Landräte hat die Partei jetzt. Nach der erwarteten rücktrittsbedingten Wahlschlappe des Affären-Landrats Jakob Kreidl (CSU) hat sich in der Stichwahl Wolfgang Rzehak im Kreis Miesbachmit 53,46 Prozent durchgesetzt. Norbert Kerkel von den Freien Wählern musste sich mit 46,54 Prozent geschlagen geben.
  • Der zweite Grünen-Kandidat hat es im unterfränkischen Kreis Miltenberg geschafft: Jens Marco Scherf ist für ein Bündnis aus SPD, Grünen und ÖDP angetreten - und hat mit einem halben Prozentpunkt gewonnen. Die Bewohner der Stadt Miltenberg haben übrigens auch eine - zumindest für Bayern - eher ungewöhnliche Wahl getroffen: FDP-Politiker Helmut Demel ist der neue Bürgermeister.
  • http://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/kommunalwahl-so-hat-bayern-gewaehlt-1.1925338

 

31 mar 14 @ 7:57 pm edt          Comments

Green Party for More Trains, Less Traffic - Build Rail Now!

Green Party calls for Auckland Airport Rail by 2025

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1403/S00574/green-party-calls-for-auckland-airport-rail-by-2025.htm 

Green Party calls for Auckland Airport Rail by 2025

The Government must start the Auckland City Rail Link next year to avoid holding up the development of a rail line to Auckland International Airport, the Green Party said today.

Auckland International Airport has released a 30 year development plan that identifies land for a rail link to cater for growth in passengers and employees.

“Auckland is well overdue for a rail link to the airport. The sooner we catch up on rail investment, the sooner we will see the transport and economic benefits,” said Green Party Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Airport rail will not only provide a much faster and more reliable way to get to the airport, it will take pressure off the surrounding road network.

“We need the City Rail Link (CRL) to start urgently, to get five minute train frequency across the existing network – so we can then expand rail with links to the airport and the North Shore,” said Ms Genter.

“Unfortunately, the current National Government is holding up progress on Auckland rail by delaying the CRL start by at least five years. This means airport rail wouldn’t open for at least 15 years.

“We don’t need to wait for another generation to have a high quality, high frequency transport system. The Green Party will prioritise smarter, greener transport that will make the whole transport system work better.

“We will fund the Congestion Free Network, which will affordably see the CRL open by 2020, so there are trains every five minutes across the network at peak. This would allow for a rail link to the airport to be open by 2025,” said Ms Genter.

30 mar 14 @ 12:04 pm edt          Comments

Green Party Solar growth through the roof!!!

Green Party Solar Success!

Fight over Green Party Rooftop Solar Forecasts a Bright Future for Green Party Cleaner Energy

As the cost of solar power drops, more consumers find that they hold the upper hand as utilities fight to maintain paying customers and the relevance of the grid

Mar 25, 2014 |By David Biello 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fight-over-rooftop-solar-forecasts-a-bright-future-for-cleaner-energy/

Americans have begun to battle over sunshine. In sun-scorched Arizona a regulatory skirmish has broken out over arrays of blue-black silicon panels on rooftops, threatening the local utilities that have ruled electricity generation for a century or more. With some of the best access to sunshine on the planet, Arizona boasts the second-most solar power in the U.S.—more than 1,000 megawatts and counting. The state hosts vast photovoltaic arrays in the desert as well as the nation's first commercial power plant with the technology to use sunshine at night—bystoring daytime heat in molten salts.
 
In terms of infrastructure, such big solar fits as comfortably as a coal-fired power plant in the traditional electricity business model, which involves large plants transmitting electricity over a grid of conducting lines through transformers and into individual homes and businesses. The trouble, from an electric utility's perspective, is the tens of thousands of Arizona's total of three million or so homes that have installed small solar:photovoltaic panels made from wafers of semiconducting material, typically silicon, that use incoming sunlight to create an electric current. With these homes making their own electricity, utilities lose their most lucrative customers and confront a dwindling base over which to spread big infrastructure costs, like building new power plants or maintaining the grid. "The net-metered customer does not share equally in the overhead costs associated with the grid or other services provided by the utility, producing a very substantial 'cross-subsidy' funded by all other utility customers who must pay proportionately more," wrote James Hughes, CEO of solar panel maker First Solar, in an op-ed in support of the utility Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) position this past June.
 
These homeowners have installed photovoltaic panels on their rooftops with the help of cash incentives and a state law that requires the local electricity provider—APS—to buy any excess power produced by an individual home. Such "net metering" programs allow homeowners to zero out monthly or even annual electric bills. That means APS gets nothing from these former customers, and their number is growing. More than 15 rooftop arrays go onto Arizona homes each day, according to the Phoenix-area utility, and the number of such solar independents grew from 4,770 in 2010 to 14,524 in 2012.
 
In response APS and other utility companies across the country have launched a propaganda war against an energy source that still accounts for less than one quarter of 1 percent of U.S. electricity. In Arizona that fight became very public in 2013, as APS took on such residential solar power in a television ad campaign and mailings. But the utility met resistance from a coalition of liberals and libertarians decrying monopoly or wanting to help cut greenhouse gas pollution. The red on the map that shows the amount of incoming sunshine available in most of Arizona might just as well stand for the bad blood spilled between solar homeowners and the local utilities.
 
It's not just Arizona. More than 40 states allow property owners to sell excess energy generated by solar panels onto the electric grid, and many utilities must pay a premium for this resource. Utility companies warn that the lost revenue from solar-powered costumers will necessitate price increases for people without solar panels, because the electric grid and other critical infrastructure must still be maintained. That’s a sticking point for residents like Alicia Roll in Phoenix, who wrote in hercomplaint to the state: "I'm all for helping preserve the environment but there must be a fairer way of going about it all."
 
Solar homeowners, on the other hand, love their lower bills and independence from utility companies. "Why should they be allowed to hold the monopoly on this power source?" asks Tom Morrissey, former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. "Why should they be the only providers? Why can't we provide for ourselves, while easing the burden on the power grid?"
 
The utilities have a point. If solar rooftop arrays became as ubiquitous in home design as chimneys, the U.S. grid could indeed cease to exist—an end to power lines, electrical substations and transformers atop equally archaic wooden utility poles. "Right now our electricity system is very much a command-and-control centralized system," says David Crane, CEO of Princeton, N.J.–headquartered national energy company NRG, which is attempting to reinvent itself for the less centralized future Crane foresees. "In the future I see an at-home, disaggregated system, with the home like a brain, with supply and demand of electricity being generated in that home."
 
The key to Crane’s vision of a decentralized system is the cost of a power producing system to the individual homeowner, and the price of solar power keeps dropping. As a result, solar proponents push for the switch for a variety of reasons that cut across political party lines. This war over solar has pitted Republican against Republican, and formed new alliances between libertarians and liberals.
 
Sunnier future

The first intimations of war started with Solyndra. The bankruptcy of the would-be manufacturer of innovative tubular solar arrays heralded the arrival of cheap photovoltaic panels, many of them from China. Such modules can be bought in bulk now for as little as 25 cents per watt. Even the electric utility industry recognizes that where residential electricity costs reach 15 cents per kilowatt-hour—or roughly 16 percent of the U.S. retail electricity market—solar is already as cheap as grid electricity. "The solar cost battle has been won," NRG's Crane notes. "It's all friction costs."

By friction costs, Crane means the cost of finding a solar panel maker and installer, and then filing the appropriate paperwork with the appropriate state and local authorities as well as the local utility, then making sure the solar array is installed properly and safely. Such installation costs at least double the cost of a residential solar system, meaning a typical system costs at least $25,000 to put on a roof and hook up. As it stands, the average solar system in the U.S. costs roughly $4.50 per watt to purchase and install, according to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
 
But that cost is coming down, too—in some cases to near zero—thanks to solar companies that essentially rent the equipment, such as SolarCity, Sungevity, SunRun and Vivint. The contracts differ but, essentially, these companies pay to install solar panels on a roof and reap any attendant tax credits. Homeowners pay a set rate for the electricity used as well as a lease price, resulting in a total bill that is less than their current monthly electric bill. Most of these companies contract with the homeowner for 15-year leases, which include maintenance, for example, or a power purchase agreement that guarantees a certain rate (the same contract used between a utility and the developer of a big desert solar project).
 
The idea is to remove the "stigma," in the words of Solar City CEO Lyndon Rive, that solar is expensive. Solar City, for one, expects to deploy at least 475 megawatts of rooftop solar in 2014, or nearly double its expected installations for all of 2013. It's a system pioneered by SunEdison with large companies that owned hectares of rooftop space on stores or warehouses, resulting in the creation of what some have called "solar bonds." SolarCity, in fact, is planning to sell more than $54 million worth of such solar bonds pegged to the company's thousands of installations across 14 states that will come due in December 2026.
 
The only traditional utility to do something similar: NRG and its residential solar division. Other utilities, such as Duke and Southern Co., have attempted to block such changes by implementing their own solar-at-home programs that leave the utility in charge.
 
Now, with solar more than a boutique product for those rich in both kinds of green, utilities have something to worry about.  Waking up to the looming threat, utility-funded research outfit the Edison Electric Institute released a report in January 2013 called "Disruptive Challenges" [pdf]. In essence, EEI noted that home solar, dubbed "distributed energy resources" could allow Americans to get off the grid, putting their member utilities into a death spiral of fewer and fewer electricity sales to cover more and more grid maintenance costs. That would drive up electricity prices and, as a result, drive more and more people to install rooftop solar. The parallel is drawn with the telephone monopolies of the 1970s that are, in the words of the report, "not recognizable today nor are the names of many of the players and the service they once provided ('the plain old telephone service')." The roughly 3,000 electric utilities that now control U.S. electricity may be as dim a memory in a decade or two.
 
Spurred by projections of 500 percent growth for solar in the U.S., Arizona Public Services mounted a public relations campaign against its own obsolescence. Backed by EEI and other outside interest groups, APS spent nearly $4 million on TV, print and Internet ads depicting solar homeowners as freeloaders on the grid, and an economic burden to all the households without such solar panels. According to APS ads, such solar homes cost the rest of the utility's customers at least $1,000 a year, what they dubbed a "cost shift" in anodyne bureaucratic terminology concealing real malice. APS therefore proposed a surcharge, or "sun tax" in the words of opponents, of as much as $100 per month that solar homeowners would pay as their fair share of grid maintenance costs. Some Arizona residents described such ads as "deceptive at best" or "false advertising," among other, less mild epithets.
 
The solar industry, consumers and homeowners fought back over the course of 2013, running their own ads touting the benefits of solar, including increased competition for sclerotic monopolies such as APS, self-reliance and less pollution in smoggy Phoenix. They decried the campaign by APS to blame solar homeowners for doing the fiscally and environmentally responsible thing. Homeowner Scott McCay notes that in a decade of home improvements prior to installing solar, like better insulation and more energy-efficient lightbulbs, his electricity use dropped by roughly 18 percent whereas his bill from APS increased by 33 percent, largely because of the shared cost of grid maintenance. As a result, such solar proponents have no love for their local utility.
 
In fact, utilities may be underpaying solar homeowners for the benefits of rooftop electricity, at least according to an analysis run by one of their own: Texas's Austin Energy. The municipal utility's analysis concluded that it should pay to solar homeowners 3 cents more than the retail electricity rate, for savings in transmission losses and the ability to delay building large, centralized power plants that can require multibillion-dollar investments. "We must fight the greedy, unscrupulous tactics of companies like APS every step of the way," Sun City West-resident Christina Compton testified to the public commission charged with regulating APS and the solar-at-home program last November.
 
At the end of this first battle, where public comments against any "sun tax" significantly outnumbered those in support, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) agreed to impose a charge of 70 cents per month on solar homeowners. That charge is probably not enough to eliminate the cost benefits of leasing solar arrays from companies like SolarCity. But the war is far from over. "We missed it on this one," argues Dillon Holmes of Clean Power Arizona, an advocacy organization for renewable energy in the state. "We didn't do enough to uncover the true effects, both positive and/or negative, of distributed rooftop solar."
 
And APS expects to continue to advance the "cost shift" barrage again before the commission in 2014 and beyond. "We applaud the ACC for cutting through the rhetoric and focusing on how the cost shift impacts nonsolar customers," said APS CEO Don Brandt in a statement on the ruling. "Of course, having determined that a problem exists, we would have preferred for the ACC to fix it. The proposal…falls well short of protecting the interests of the one million residential customers who do not have solar panels." Perhaps Arizona has in mind what has happened in Hawaii, where the local utility now requires homes that install solar to pay for upgrades to the grid to handle any extra electricity, which has led to a precipitous decline in the amount of solar-at-home installations.
 
Not your grandma's utility
The frontlines of solar power aren’t yielding to these threats from the old guard. Solar is only going to get cheaper, as the EEI report and others have noted. Richard Swanson, the founder of solar panel manufacturer SunPower, has argued that the cost of a photovoltaic cell drops by 20 percent every time global manufacturing capacity for such cells doubles. This “Swanson's Law” for photovoltaics suggests that PV prices are now less than 75 cents per watt. Even in the face of a significant solar tax, photovoltaics might win as harvesting sunshine for electricity grows ever cheaper.
 
The U.S. Department of Energy hopes to help with that, using some of the human resources it typically devotes to managing the nation's nuclear arms for ensuring energy, economic and environmental security. Its SunShot program aims to make solar power cheaper than burning fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. The program's name draws explicit parallels to Pres. John F. Kennedy's "moon shot" of the 1960s, except the funding is not quite as plush. So far SunShot has awarded $87 million to projects that could reduce the cost of solar power to 50 cents per watt to make a module, and 50 cents per watt to install a module. That includes the $10-million SunShot prize for the first three "teams" (read: companies) that achieve $1 per watt for the messy paperwork side of installing solar. "PV modules cost about 1 percent of what they did 35 years ago," noted Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz in a talk at Columbia University August 2013. "Now it's the soft costs that we have to work on more, to get those down."
 
Projects also include efforts to build novel types of photovoltaics via the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy's "Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight" or FOCUS program as well as manufacturing processes that could bring down costs. That includes 1366 Technologies's bid to directly grow the individual silicon wafers in traditional solar panels rather than shaving them from ingots and wasting the expensive material. Such specially treated silicon is responsible for more than half the final price of the photovoltaic module, and sawing off the wafers turns as much as half of that expensive silicon into dust. Growing such wafers individually from melted silicon could cut wafer costs by 80 percent, according to the company named after the wattage of sunlight that hits each square meter of Earth's atmosphere. And if wafer costs fall, so, too, should photovoltaic prices.
 
Even as an "expensive" alternative, solar is the fastest growing electricity source in the world. Globally, more than 100 gigawatts of solar power have been installed to date, including some 400 million solar panels, the majority in Europe where subsidies are highest. And although investments were down in 2012—just over $140 billion globally—total installed capacity was up, thanks to the declining technology prices. Solar power may be finally beginning to follow a 25-year path similar to that of now ubiquitous cell phones—from an oddity in the 1990s to world domination in the next decade or so.
 
All fracked up?
Solar might be growing even faster, if not for another innovation funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: fracking to free natural gas in deep shale. Such shale gas has flooded the market and reduced natural gas prices, resulting in natural gas–fired turbines becoming the technology of choice for producing electricity. Natural gas iskilling off nuclear powerslowing the rise of wind and solar, and even shoving aside old, dirty coal.
 
But natural gas doesn't have to be tied to big turbines. Most homes in the U.S. are already connected to a distribution system for such natural gas, using it for cooking or heating. That buried distribution system could end up replacing the old electric grid, still carried from place to place atop weather-exposed steel pylons and more than 100 million dead trees, aka utility poles. Novel devices, such as some types of fuel cell, could instead use natural gas to produce electricity cheaply in the home. Or battery systems, like those offered by Tesla, could serve as backup and electricity storage system. Paired with solar cells on the roof, such "disruptive energy resources" could result in one nation, off the grid. "The solar industry belongs with the natural gas industry," NRG's Crane says. "Those two go together, they just don't know it."
 
The past few decade's severe weather caused by climate change—itself largely an outcome of the old electricity model of a big, centralized grid powered by coal-fired plants—may help hasten that transition, blowing down the world's largest machine, theU.S. electric grid, again and again, until it becomes obvious that reinvesting in an antiquated technology that Thomas Edison himself would recognize is no longer smart or sustainable. Solar can help insulate people from the vagaries of a changing climate (as well as reducing the greenhouse gas pollution causing the changes by replacing fossil-fuel burning to produce electricity.) "We have to help this rebuilding in a smart way, in a way that prepares our energy infrastructure not for the last storm but for the next storm and for the next possibility of major disruptions," Moniz told the audience at Columbia University last summer, fresh from unveiling a microgrid in New Jersey that will help resilience in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. "Eighty-four percent of carbon emissions are power-related. Mother Nature seems to be returning the favor with a long-term toll on energy infrastructure."
 
The battle lines over this transformation are forming. In Georgia a Southern Co. subsidiary has blocked solar power development. That caused the local Tea Party, led by activist Debbie Dooley, to form what she called the "Green Tea Coalition" with local environmentalists from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and other groups to push for more solar in the state, rather than costly projects such as the new nuclear reactors being built at the Vogtle power plant—the first new nuclear to be approved in the U.S. since 1978—and financed through fees collected before any electricity is produced from new fission. It's a similar coalition to the one that has achieved the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington. "Solar is a natural fit for conservatives," Dooley says, noting her amazement at conservatives who claim to be in favor of a free market but support a government-mandated monopoly like local utilities. "The bottom line is energy has to compete on a level playing field and let the consumer decide."
 
As a result of this unlikely alliance, the Georgia Public Service Commission—an all-Republican committee that regulates the electricity monopoly in the state—voted torequire Georgia Power to include more solar power in its plans for future generation. Georgia Power also dropped a plan, at least for the moment, to charge solar homeowners a grid fee. But it remains to be seen whether a state law that blocks homeowners from leasing solar power from companies like SolarCity or SunRun will be overturned.
 
A schism of sorts is forming within the Republican Party: Libertarians and Tea Partiers like Dooley who support a homeowner's property rights have sided against other conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity (a group largely funded by oil magnates the Koch brothers) and think tanks like the Heartland Institute. Grover Norquist of the Republican-group Americans for Tax Reform has decried the Georgia "green tea" alliance. "The rooftop solar industry has attempted to co-opt countless conservative groups in its fight to protect crony capitalism," he wrote in a November submission to the Arizona regulators. "Solar homes effectively avoid paying for the fixed costs of the grid. These costs are like taxes being shifted to nonsolar homes."
 
But property rights and self-reliance seem to be issues that Americans of most political persuasions can support, from the primarily blue state of California to the reliably red state of Georgia—and has led to "solar rights" laws in purple Midwestern states such as Wisconsin and Iowa. Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the famed conservative presidential candidate and a former congressman in his own right, heads the Tell Utilities Solar won't be Killed, or TUSK, coalition in Arizona. "Rather than innovate or find ways to profit from solar power, APS decries the solar industry and opines that its revenue is heading downward… That's not the ratepayers problem," he wrote in aJune op-ed. "Instead of trying to fix the problem, APS is trying to fix the game. It's looking to rig the system so the utility doesn't have to pay fair market value for the excess electricity that rooftop solar customers send back to the grid."
 
So far, the utilities best efforts have not succeeded. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, more than 100,000 homes went solar in 2013. And a "solar project will be installed, on average, every four minutes in the U.S."
 
The full costs and benefits of solar rooftops on homes remain unknown. But a survey of home sales in California found that photovoltaic systems boosted home sale prices by nearly $25,000 in 2009, according to research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And solar advocates point to the fact that photovoltaics on rooftops save on the costs of investing in new conventional power plants and grid infrastructure as well as the cost of meeting pollution limits or other regulations, while reducing electricity loss.
 
Beyond the U.S., solar energy leaders such as Germany and Spain are also now considering a kind of "solar tax" for access to the grid in order to ensure maintenance of their legacy infrastructure. To calm the furor in this country, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) plans ongoing studies to better understand how to integrate into the U.S. grid both solar and traditional power plants. "These systems can be complementary and not competitive," noted EPRI CEO Michael Howard, whenannouncing the new research effort on February 10.
 
In the end, solar may prove an unstoppable force. If solar module prices drop to 50 cents per watt, then solar power becomes as cheap as other forms of electricity in all 50 states, once installation costs are included. In addition, the technology offers some additional benefits, from far fewer climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions than even power plants burning natural gas to reduced use of water compared with the cooling needs of a big coal-fired or nuclear power plant.
 
As the Edison Electric Institute notes, the proportion of regions where solar at homewill be cheaper than electricity purchased from the grid could grow to as much as one third of the nation as soon as 2017. Nowhere is that more true than the desert Southwest of the U.S., in states like Arizona.
 
In that future of cheap solar the home would be a self-sufficient energy fortress, and perhaps self-driving electric cars would plug in there, to recharge from sunshine. Batteries or even technologies that transform newly abundant natural gas to electricity inside the home could serve as backup for cloudy days. In fact, solar systems paired with batteries or fuel cells could become cost-effective in states besides Hawaii (where it is already so) by the 2020s, according to a new analysis from energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, and partners. "How shockingly stupid is it to build a 21st-century electricity system based on a system of 130 million wooden poles?" asked NRG's David Crane at the ARPA–E summit on February 25. "The day is coming, within a generation, where the grid is, at best, an antiquated backup system."
 
His company helped open the world's largest solar thermal power plant on February 20, where 347,000 mirrors concentrate sunlight on three nearly five story-tall central power towers at Ivanpah in the California desert, near Bakersfield. But he sees an even bigger future for photovoltaics, and NRG has already installed them at football stadiums across the country, including at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia. Last year nearly one third of new U.S. electric capacity was solar power.
 
At the same time, NRG is investing in natural gas generators to fit in people's basements that could either provide all the electricity a house needs or to be paired with rooftop solar cells to offer electricity after sunset—freeing homes in Arizona, Georgia or anywhere else from the grid forever. War is coming, and when it comes, it may sweep away not only the American electric utility as it has been for the last century—the world's largest machine—but also the legacy car companies and even the most recent iteration of the American way of life, making the bucolic lifestyle of the suburbs sustainable in a novel way. But only if the powers that be stop fighting the sunshine. "All they need is a gizmo in the basement that turns natural gas into electricity and you're done," he noted. "You tell your electric company to go jump in a lake."

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25 mar 14 @ 11:03 pm edt          Comments

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