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The dirty energy economy exploits the Earth’s resources and jeopardizes the health of low-income communities of color. The Green Energy/Green Jobs Campaign advocates for the removal of polluting power generators and their replacement with local clean, sustainable energy sources.
To meet the state's energy needs, EHC supports the priority list for electricity sources set by California's Loading Order. California's utilities must first employ energy efficiency and conservation to meet customer demand; then demand response management; then energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. Only after all those supplies are exhausted may the utilities purchase power from fossil fuel plants. EHC advocates for the prioritization of urban and rooftop solar photovoltaic power— before utility-scale renewable developments— for a number of reasons including the potential for low-income communities to increase social equity, environmental quality, energy independence, and wealth creation.
In 2013, EHC stopped two power plants from being built in San Diego: Pio Pico and Quail Brush. EHC advocates for solutions to move us beyond fossil fuels and prevent new sources of dirty energy. We oppose the expansion of oil and gas drilling. Fracking, a dangerous method of extracting oil and gas from deep underground, is harmful to public health and safety, would derail California's momentum in addressing the climate crisis, and would impact low-income communities the most. We support legislation that would put a moratorium on the practice.
EHC's concerns with utility-scale renewable and non-renewable energy sources include:
- Other renewable energy sources:
- What is an acceptable renewable energy source must be defined: nuclear and waste-to-energy plants are often considered renewable
- Large scale solar, wind and thermal installations are often far from where the energy is needed; twenty-six utility-scale solar projects are in the works for California's deserts putting at risk endangered plants and animals
- Combined heat and power generation: The co-generation of energy and the use of the resulting heat is superior to conventional gas-fired generation, but the problems concerning the original source of energy are the same. As regulations evolve to favor combined heat and power generation, care must be taken not to “streamline” away important environmental protections.
- Conventional gas-fired generation:
- More than 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from power stations
- Power plants are frequently located in low-income communities
- Petroleum products are not renewable and their continued use for energy generation increases our dependence on petroleum-producing countries
- The extraction of natural gas, especially through the use of fracking, pollutes groundwater and results in unintended emissions of methane gas
- Transmission line problems associated with utility-scale power generation
- They frequently traverse sensitive lands. The Sunrise Powerlink will cross sensitive land adjacent to Anza Borrego State Park, the Cleveland National Forest, and Mission Trails Regional Park
- Two of the San Diego wild fires of 2007, estimated to cost at least $16 million, were caused by sparks from transmission lines; now SDG&E wants to charge its ratepayers for the cost of damage to repair their lines and for future fires it assumes will happen
- Huge sums of money are spent on transmission lines and utility companies expect the lines to last 20-30 years; once this long-term investment is made, there is little motivation to invest in infrastructure for local distribution
- There is a loss of energy during transmission; this line loss negates much of the desert sun cost advantage