Energy Policy: Kicking Butt and Taking Names

Steve, you write:

This is not just about ceiling insulation and more heat-reflective roofs.  It also has to do with the ability of electric generators to convert heat to power, the elimination of line losses from the transmission grid, and the improvement of fuel delivery systems to avoid leakage.  It has to do with strategic use of “distributed” generation – those solar cells, wind turbines, and geothermal heating districts we construct right where the demand is.

That seems right to me, but I want names.  Distributed power is not some sort of huge technical problem, at least as far as I can tell.  Ditto with line losses.  We know how to do this relatively cost-effectively, right?  And if I’m right, that means it’s a political problem, not a technical one.

In Los Angeles, we don’t have distributed power because the powerful DWP union, Local 18, which basically runs the city, doesn’t want it.  Distributed power means that its people don’t get all the installation work, so they veto it.  Proposition 16, which the voters narowly rejected last autumn, would have ramped up solar installations by giving Local 18 a monopoly on all the work.  With that off the table, Mayor Villaraigosa has suddenly lost interest in distributed power or feed-in tariffs.

But who are the other bad guys?  What are the political coalitions?  This doesn’t seem to be a technical issue.  No?

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Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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