Carolinians Discuss Energy Bill


On June 16, a group of about 15 people from Wake and Johnston Counties gathered at the Johnston Memorial Hospital Medical Mall to discuss and vote on options concerning the ACES energy bill that is now before Congress.

Entitled the American Clean Energy and Security Act, it has wide-ranging implications for global warming, the automotive industry, power generation plants, common households, and green jobs for people unemployed by the current economic crisis. ACES is a 900-page document; the summary itself is 22 pages, and doesn¹t even include most of the critical details.

Accordingly, it seemed good to gather people who knew the subject and put them together with those who don't. And it was good.

Physicians, engineers, householders, and a representative from Congressman Bob Etheridge were in attendance. The meeting was kicked off town-hall style by host Steven Landau MD, who sang two environmentally friendly songs (³Sunshine² by John Denver, and Tiny Green Island by P.R. Sarkar) and had everybody introduce themselves and what their background and interest were. Then Landau gave a brief description of PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory ­ please see ) and its application to the environment and energy bill in specific.

Gerry Dudzik of Carolina Solar Energy gave a brief talk about commercial applications of wind and solar energy, and answered many questions about the economic implications of policy as it creates expanded markets, which then create economies of scale. Steve McLeod of Indoor Environmental Systems gave an inspired speech about the benefits both for health and savings, inherent in abandoning the ³stack house² concept, which includes a moist crawl space filled with mold and bugs. Marvin Woll regaled us with stories of simple money saving ideas, like turning on a window fan at 6:30 am and pm, ventilating the house with cool air, and reducing light bills by $360/year. Candice Davies from MoveOn read a letter by Alina Johnson representing the Conservation Council of North Carolina, encouraging us to support the bill and strengthen it, noting that 80% of North Carolinians and 75% of Americans support the bill.

Finally, Mike Little, field representative from Congressman Bob Etheridge, answered questions about whether or not our elected representatives listen to their constituents. It turns out that they really do read those letters, (or at least someone in the office does), respond to them, and consider them carefully. Even the mass e-mails get consideration.

At the end, votes were taken on the subjects raised by the bill. Results were as follows:
1. There was near unanimity in favor of passing the ACES bill (only 1 abstention, none against).
2. There is a need for education in energy conservation so members of the public can better utilize the technologies already available.
3. Long term policies are needed so private investors feel more confident in participating in companies that utilize and develop clean energy sources.
One agency actively supporting such policies is the NC Sustainable Energy Association.
4. Encourage and express appreciation for Wal-mart, other private industries, US and State governments, Department of Defense, and others, when they show accountability for greening. We need to set the example in our own homes and offices.
5. Participants in the meeting were encouraged to generate TV and radio shows on home efficiency, energy conservation, and health.
6. Popularize the already-existing NC fund which subsidizes solar energy and better insulation for people in low-income housing. Help people find home equity loans to let them pay for their retro-fits, which will pay for their loans on a monthly basis based on the amount they save in energy bills.
7. Set up Micro-credit cooperatives for energy conservation - NC Green Power already does this by enabling people with solar or other inputs to put their surplus generated energy back into the grid, and getting paid for it.

The session ended with tea and crackers, and another song (³This land is your land² by Woodie Guthrie), exchanges of e-mails, and gratitude all around.

Steven Landau MD