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Climate Connections: Napa County's progress towards 100% renewable energy
Climate Connections

Climate Connections: Napa County's progress towards 100% renewable energy

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Climate

Electric cars, solar panels and other Earth-friendly options are becoming popular in Napa.

Every year now, wildfires in California open our eyes to the immediate and terrifying realities of climate change. With the work of Napa’s residents and the leadership of our elected officials, the County of Napa is actively confronting this crisis – and addressing the urgent need to reduce the heat we add to the atmosphere.

In 2007, a modest 12% of Napa County’s electricity came from renewable sources. Today, with Marin Clean Energy, or MCE (www.mcecleanenergy.org), as our electricity supplier, 61% of Napa County’s electricity dollars go to renewable power, and all Napa residents can choose to “opt up” to 100% renewable through MCE’s Deep Green program.

The governments of unincorporated Napa County, Napa, St. Helena and Yountville, private and nonprofit sector electricity customers like Sutter Home Winery and the Gasser Foundation and many Napa County residents have already made this choice.

Opting up is the simplest, fastest way to reduce emissions related to electricity use. The cost is an additional penny per unit (kilowatt hour), or about $5 more per month for a typical residential customer. MCE uses these funds to invest in solar, wind and other renewable energy generation on our behalf and reinvest half of every Deep Green penny in the community.

Opting up paves the way to saving on emissions and costs in the future. When we replace gas and propane appliances and gas and diesel cars with their electric equivalents, these will be “fueled” through existing electrical wires and outlets, and can stimulate the production of even more clean electricity to supply our homes and offices.

Regeneration Napa County’s climate solutions platform, regenerationnapa.org/, provides a wealth of information on replacing gas heaters with heat pumps, gas dryers with electric dryers, gas hot water heaters with heat pump hot water heaters, and CFLs and incandescent bulbs with LEDs. The site provides information about installing solar panels, as well as buying or leasing electric vehicles.

The information about electric vehicles is especially in-depth. Regeneration Napa County has partnered with the Center for Sustainably Energy (energycenter.org/), Drive Clean Bay Area, (drivecleanbayarea.org/), EV Life (evlife.co/), EVmatch (www.evmatch.com), and MCE to present a series of webinars on electric vehicles, charging and financial incentives.

Because climate change is now “in the room,” the big- picture reasons for changing to renewable energy and electric vehicles are in urgent and sharp focus.

— Divestments away from the oil sector, climate change- related regulations, the falling demand for gas and gas cars and an increasing interest in renewable hydrogen and electric vehicles are all accelerating the end of the oil age. Increasingly, energy from sunlight, heat, and air will provide electricity; heat pumps will move the energy to heat water and interior spaces; and batteries and fuel cells will power transportation.

— California leads the U.S. in the global trend toward electric transportation. Over 40 models of electric vehicles are available now, with more on the way. In Napa County, the process for getting a permit to install electric vehicle charging stations has been greatly streamlined.

— Climate change threatens all living things. It’s not a case of ‘just us,’ but rather ‘us, too’. The solutions to this existential challenge must also be shared.

California has a mandate in place to address social equity during the transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles. Subsidies of $3,300 – $20,300 are available for buying or leasing electric vehicles, with low-income customers eligible for more. The subsidy includes charging stations for homes, multi-family sites and workplaces. Based on current off-peak rates, the cost of charging an electric vehicle overnight at home would be like filling your gas tank for around $1.10 a gallon.

Another benefit of electric vehicles is their capacity to absorb any surpluses of solar and wind generation on the grid. Moving ahead with the change to electric vehicles will accelerate the deployment of more renewables, lower electricity costs, increase resiliency, hasten the decommissioning of nuclear plants and oil refineries, and prepare for a future of wireless electric vehicle charging, electric vehicles-to-grid charging, autonomous electric vehicles, and shared mobility.

As a further bonus, when shared mobility (ride sharing) becomes commonplace, we can say goodbye to underutilized second or third vehicles. It’s a mutually reinforcing cycle – a win-win-win.

Ready to act?

— Give ride sharing a try. A network for shared mobility is already in place: vcommute.org/ platform, a 21st century ride-sharing solution. It’s flexible, safe, convenient and provides a guaranteed ride home in case of an emergency. The platform matches neighbors, friends, and co-workers with similar commute needs.

— Opt up to 100% renewable: mcecleanenergy.org/100-renewable/ through MCE’s Deep Green program

— Watch the EV101 webinar, held on Aug. 28: Introduction to electric vehicle technology, charging, financial incentives, and resources: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Adf-GU5UQiKY5cwUfjqubA

— Register for EV102 on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. Useful tools to simplify your search for an electric vehicle and charging: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_apjoOfb-SAma-G7CHJczxg

— Register for Electrify Your Ride on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m.

— Learn about electric vehicles and e-bikes and preferred pricing: eventbrite.com/e/electrify-your-ride-event-tickets-117596729985

We face challenges of the utmost urgency. It is late, disturbingly so, but it isn’t too late. We can save much of our miraculously varied and beautiful world if we work together.

Watch now: Teach your kids to be eco-friendly

Gopal Shanker is the president of Récolte Energy and founder of Regeneration Napa County. Gopal has lived in the Napa Valley since 1994. He’s worked here and around the country to develop renewable energy projects and remove the technical, financial, and other obstacles that constrain the use and growth of renewable energy.Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area. Find them on Facebook or through http://napa.350bayarea.org

Gopal Shanker is the president of Récolte Energy and founder of Regeneration Napa County. Gopal has lived in the Napa Valley since 1994. He’s worked here and around the country to develop renewable energy projects and remove the technical, financial, and other obstacles that constrain the use and growth of renewable energy.

Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area. Find them on Facebook or through http://napa.350bayarea.org

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