But Who’s Going to Pay for It?

That’s a question I hear a lot, so I thought I’d link to this article from the Northwest Indiana Times not only for the information on voluntary programs (which is pretty thorough) , but also to discuss this thorny issue (most recently addressed in comments by Rusty and Romehater). Voluntary programs look great on the surface, but I wonder if they can truly pay the costs of renewable energy generation. Of course, if we continue to see big companies like Whole Foods and Fed-Ex Kinko’s joining these programs, that problem might solve itself. Requiring renewables is likely much more attractive for utility companies, but does mean raising the power bills of people who have trouble paying them now. We can argue in the long run that costs will go down (and that seems a pretty safe bet considering how natural gas is skyrocketing), but that still leaves some of our poorest vulnerable in the short term.

I do think a gradual shift to renewables is smart on many levels, and I’m glad to see so many states looking at renewable portfolio standards. I hope the question of higher costs for poorer people is being addressed, though. Would a subsidy for low-income utility customers make sense as a long-term investment in a more sustainable energy infrastructure, or would we simply be externalizing costs? I honestly don’t know, so let’s hear what you have to say…

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  1. Teresa Hensley

    Their should be a program for low and stressed income families(that includes schools, communities centers, workforce development and Junior Achievement)by helping them save money by setting them up with a green plan that match their assessed needs. Portions would be set up by free-simple home solutions, partially funded(w/elbow work), fully funded assistance and green collar training. There would also be green packages for those who qualify. Things like energy saving devices, 1 year FIOS (or equivalent), 1 year MagicJack( phone service), and access to a free decent computer, and classes ( computer and green collar).

    With schools suffering budget cuts, just think of kids, in Green Shop and Green Home Economics, turning: broken microwaves into wind generators,recycled supplies into solar water heaters, turning lawnspace into gardens (and/or green houses). Generally become Green Macguyverians. Once they can do this they can turn their homestead into a money saver/producer then continue to do the same for their school system and community. Imagine freshly grown food in the cafeteria, for the needy, and for sale to the public year round. Having student made wind and solar projects supplying utilities for the school buildings and providing income from the excess to lower overhead costs for the school system. They then can afford summer programs for all students and residents to learn how they to can save and earn. If these groups work together, the whole communities would be saved by these opportunities by not having to give up medicine for utilities bills and similar.

    There must be tax credit for those who do Pro Bono teaching and assisting in those endeavors that require a professional( like mechanics, welders,electricians, farmers,etc.). Also tax credit for those who help others with green projects.

    Eventually, it would all be self sustaining. And it might create some green businesses for the community to boot.

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