In Japan NPO citizen banks (a well-know one with famous singers like Ryuichi Sakamoto involved is AP Bank) find ways to invest in replacing older air conditioners in Okinawa with newer models and old refrigerators with energy efficient models. The energy savings pay for the investment. People can borrow money to put solar on their roof and pay back the difference in their energy bill, plus what they can sell back to the utility company. Anybody know of initiatives in the US like this. I wrote to the environmental (and economic) activist (Yu Tanaka) that does this, thinking it would be better to try this in the States – instead of throwing good money after bad in 401k. Even unions have been sending members letters about their ‘endangered’ pensions. It’s crazy if you think of it, unions putting their members money into the stock market, mutual funds – tie your fortunes to corporate profits that depen on outsourcine, union busting and destroying the environment we all ahve to live in. Apparently electricity rates are too cheap in the states for the solar investment, actually investing in putting panels on someone’s home, to work out as well as in Japan. You’d be better off just saving electricity with your drier on heat pump or something instead.
But still I was wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea – even for the symbolism and having a bit of your own power infrastructure, to put solar on alternative institutions. What if you live in an apartment, aren’t sure how long you’ll have your house but you’d like to contribute to solar power. How about investing in Solar to power South End press or something? The solar power generators here in Japan are set up so you can plug directly into them for power when the grid is down from an earthquake or something. It might be worthwhile for alternative institution to have their own power. Noam Chomsky (in an interview transcript) mentioned a Boston plumber he chatted with that had his own generator set up because of failing infrastructure worries. Even if South End Press paying back the investment fund with the difference in electricity bill and energy sold back to the drill doesn’t bring in any interest it’s better than having any savings sitting in a bank being used for who knows what. It might be worth it for the feeling of satisfaction that comes from putting some money where your mouth is.
Some local utility companies might even have special programs to help with local energy production. Maybe they could be talked into paying extra for clean green energy the way you would for organic vegetables.
Having a lot of places producing energy is a nice way of keeping all the eggs out of one basket, spreads the power around…. Anybody have any thoughts? interest?
P.S. Is there any way to set up an RSS feed or something that would make it easier to see if anyone every comments on any of you blog posts. I’m not very consistent about checking in. Sorry to say.