Electricity Supply and Price Security

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By Jim Bell

Instead of a transmission line, the Net-Meter Option invests ratepayer dollars into making our buildings and infrastructure more electricity use efficient and installing PV panels on roofs and over parking lots, eliminating the need for the Power Link all together.

From the media reports to date, one would think that the main purpose, indeed the only purpose of the Power Link is to deliver renewably generated electricity from Imperial Valley. That most people believe this is a credit to SDG&E's PR prowess.

In reality, the main purpose of the Power Link is to deliver electricity produced by burning natural gas imported from Indonesia by tankers to just North of Ensenada and then piping it to Mexicali over the Mexican Laguna Mountains.

Power link proponents say that the Power Link is essential to making us electricity supply and price secure, but considering the political and geological turmoil in Indonesia and global uncertainties, one could probably get good odds in Vegas that the opposite will prove true. Got Iraq?

But what about importing renewably generated electricity from Imperial County?

While importing renewably generated electricity is better than importing fossil fuel generated electricity, it is far better for our County's economy if the renewably generated electricity we use is produced right here in San Diego County. If it is, the one billion plus dollars we now export each year --to pay for imported electricity or imported natural gas to produce electricity locally -- will stay in our local economy. It will stay here in the form of local business and employment focused on making San Diego County more electricity use efficient and developing local renewable energy resources.

Assuming an economic multiplier benefit of two, if we were renewable electricity net-metered-out today, local economic activity would be increased by two to four billion dollars each year. Becoming renewable electricity self-sufficient will also create 124,180 new direct job-years or employment paying an average of $54,080 per year and 287,000 indirect job-years of employment, average yearly wage, $46,000. (1)

From direct solar, wind, ocean energy and biomass, San Diego County has an abundance of renewable energy resources to choose from. Looking only at the photovoltaic (PV) potential, coupled with a 40% increase in electricity use efficiency, San Diego County could be completely electricity net-metered-out* by covering only 21% of the County's roofs and parking lots with PV panels. This assumes 10% efficiency for PV panels and 1,000 square feet of roof and parking lot per capita. (2)

*Net-metered-out means that San Diego County would increase efficiency and install sufficient renewable energy devices to push as many kWh of electricity into the western states grid each day, on average, as it uses from the grid when sufficient local renewable energy is not available to meet County needs.

Bottom line, investing ratepayer dollars into making local buildings and infrastructure more efficient and developing local renewable energy resources will make San Diego County better off economically and provide real electricity supply and price security. The Power Link will not.

(1) Bell, Jim and Heather Honea PhD. , Energy Supply and Price Security in San Diego County. Available free at www.jimbell.com, click on Green Papers. pp. 13 - 17.
(2) Ibid. pp. 6 - 7.

For all details about the Net-Meter Option's free-market plan to make San Diego County renewable electricity net-metered-out - and will:

    cost less than continuing our dependence on imported electricity and natural gas to produce electricity locally

    eliminate our County's electricity related contribution to global warming

    create over 400.000 good paying job-years of employment,

    For more info, go to www.jimbell.com and click on Green Papers.

-Jim Bell--Ecological Designer, Author, Lecturer

Jim Bell is an internationally recognized expert on life-support-sustaining development. His projects include the design and construction of the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology and Ecoparque, a prototype wastewater recycling plant in Tijuana, Mexico that converts sewage into irrigation water and compost. He also worked as a consultant for the Otay Ranch Joint Planning Project and the East Lake Development Company. He has also served as the ecological designer for a life-support-friendly hotel for Terra Vista Management and for the Ocean Beach People's Food Cooperative's new "green" store. Jim has more than 40 years experience in the design and construction industry. As a lecturer, Jim speaks to many groups each year. His lecture credits include the AIA California State Conference, the Society for International Development's World Conference in Mexico City, and keynote addresses at the University of Oregon's first "Visions for a Sustainable Future" conference and the State of Oregon's Solar Energy Association Conference. Jim is often interviewed on television, radio, and by the written press and has been a guest on National Public Radio and the Art Bell Show.

Jim has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Ecology Center, I Love a Clean San Diego, Environmental Health Coalition, and the California Association of Cooperatives. Currently, he serves as Director of the Ecological Life Systems Institute and the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology. He's also a Board Member of Ocean Beach People's Food Coop and is a member of the San Diego Regional Apollo Alliance.

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