Jerry “the Crusher” Brown: I will annihilate renewable energy opposition

You just can’t make this stuff up, folks. California’s tree-hugging, let’s-work-things-out governor has morphed into the Terminator when it comes to those who would dare to oppose renewable energy projects.

“When local communities try to block installation of solar like they did in San Luis Obispo, we act to overcome the opposition, In Oakland I learned that some kind of opposition you have to crush. You can talk, but you have to move forward,” says Governor Voldemort.

The particular ire of his wrath are the multitude of regulatory agencies that must approve a renewable energy project as well as obstinate environmentalists concerned with the desert tortoise or some danged fool thing like that.

California does indeed have a bewildering array of entities that must sign off on new renewable projects. No one is disputing this and the entire system certainly needs to be streamlined. But that’s not what “The Imperial One” in Sacramento wants. Rather, Brown seeks a “centralized base of arbitrary intervention to overcome the distributed political power that is blocking this process.” Such a proposal is anti-democratic at its core. It eliminates local control and substitutes a remote authority in Sacramento which will presumably rubber-stamp approval for any and all projects without all that bothersome debate and public input.

“Like barnacles on a ship, all these rules take on little sub-rules and they metastasize, and that has to be countered, and that countering can be a brutal process,” he says.

But what he calls “barnacles” are what others call “democracy.” Why is democracy being trammeled in this apparent mad rush for renewable energy?

Follow the money. If California mandates 33% renewable energy by 2020 and all such power must be generated within the state, then those with grid-scale renewable energy projects will soon have captive customers who must pay whatever they charge. Rates will unquestionably be higher. I’ve supported renewable energy for years and still do. But how will such projects benefit Californians?

Further, Gov. Brown’s plan focuses on creating a multitude of small-scale, local-based renewable power. This is a fine idea in theory. Distributed power based in urban areas seems like it should cut down on expensive transmission grid upgrades. But it doesn’t. Our current grid is already stretching to handle the amount of renewable energy being generated. It can’t possible handle 12 GW more without a major upgrade. Distributed power actually makes this more complicated, as the power will then be coming from tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of new sources. In Hawaii recently, a major power company said they may have to block further rooftop solar because their grid can’t handle it. California will be no different.

Gov. Brown’s plan to annihilate local control and override citizen groups on objections to renewable energy power plants seems to be ostensibly Orwellian: the state deeming it knows what is best and brooking no objections from the populace who is expected to meekly accept its dictates. This is wrong on so many levels. Yes, we should continue creating more renewable energy. But not at the cost of steamrolling objections by rigging the system so that the objections are ignored.

(My latest for CAIVN)

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