Let’s invest in “Local Energy”
There is a path through and solution to today’s economic, environmental, and budgetary challenges. After all the bubbles burst, we wanted to save our money – which is a good start, but collectively we cannot SAVE our way out of a recession. Instead, we need to collectively INVEST our way out of recession. A terrific investment that addresses all of the issues listed above is “Local Energy.”
Local Energy has a double meaning. In a human sense, it means enthusiasm and action for a local purpose. In a more literal sense, it refers to energy that is either generated or saved on site near where it is used. It is an interesting convergence, because it requires Local Energy to create Local Energy!
Creating Local Energy is a great investment. Encouraging and empowering people to take local actions (whether it is buying locally, volunteering, or other things) binds together the local fabric of a community. Putting systems into place that either reduce on-site energy usage or generate power on site generally require hiring a local contractor or purchasing a piece of equipment. This means dollars circulating in the local economy. Investments in Local Energy do not need to be the lowest cost – instead they need to have the greatest economic, social and environmental benefits per dollar invested. To move out of this recession, we can invest our human Local Energy and some funds in Local Energy projects that support local businesses and build local economies. Local Energy empowers communities to work together to make effective investments, leveraging the support and incentives offered by utilities and the state and federal governments.
Here are some examples of high-return investments in Local Energy:
Energy Evaluation and Guidance Services: On-site surveys conducted by expert technicians to identify Local Energy investment opportunities, with follow up assistance in project scoping and hiring contractors
Weatherization: Contractors (or Do-It-Yourselfers) seal leaks in buildings’ walls, windows and insulation
Energy Efficiency Upgrades: Installation of systems like lights, control systems and appliances that give better performance and use less energy
Heat Pumps: Devices that heat or cool indoor environments by concentrating and moving the heat out of or into the ground or the outside air
Individual Solar: Equipment or strategies in individual buildings that use the sun’s energy to create electricity, heat water, or warm indoor air
Community Solar: Multiple community members pool their resources to invest in a single solar system to provide electricity on a municipal site.
These are only a few examples. All of these examples require the human kind of Local Energy to accomplish, because they require some effort and focus by individuals and community members. All of these involve investing some funds in supplies, equipment, and installation labor. All of these can be supplied locally within communities, and will have multiplier effects within local economies, as the money circulates. All of these pay positive dividends to the owners of the systems over time in the form of reduced utility energy bills. All of these contribute to national energy security and reduced dependence on foreign oil. All of these reduce emissions. All of these are part of larger solutions.
Distributed: Energy savings and on-site generation are distributed or spread across many locations, creating benefits for each site. Likewise, human Local Energy is spread throughout communities.
Open: Anyone and everyone is able to create Local Energy, work with or for others to do so, and reap the benefits.
Transparent: The purposes behind Local Energy are clear, and strategies, successes, and lessons learned are shared for everyone else’s benefits.
Collaborative: There is no monopoly or competition for Local Energy – it is an abundant, renewable resource that can be created everywhere and therefore community partners can work together.
Efficient: Energy not purchased is money saved and Local Energy created.
Smart: Creative, effective, appropriate solutions reign in Local Energy, and ever-faster advances in IT systems are empowering automatic and user-based control systems to boost efficiency.
Clean: Lower fossil energy usage, better equipment and higher usage of renewable energy strategies mean lower emissions.
We can use the notion and framework of “Local Energy” as a foundation for economic recovery, local community revitalization and sustainability all at the same time. At its core, investments in Local Energy pay off immediately to society in terms of economic development, and pay off over time to their owners in terms of energy savings. Local Energy builds resilience in local communities as they use less energy overall, and a higher percentage of energy comes from local sources. When we use our human Local Energy to pull together, work together, and do business together, we rebuild our own communities, and are empowered to take responsibility for our future. Local Energy can be created anywhere, and is completely customizable to fit local resources and local needs. Outside investments from states, the federal government, utilities, private foundations and private investors can match the local investment of individuals, municipalities, non-profits and local businesses to create Local Energy.
So what now? PLEASE COMMENT on this post! Do you agree or disagree? How are you tapping into Local Energy in your community? We can drive Local Energy in our own homes, our own businesses and our own communities. We can use human Local Energy to ask the state and the feds to match our efforts! This is open, transparent collaboration … so please share your ideas!