Russia’s war on Ukraine is a stark reminder that oil and gas are still war prices. Our allies in Europe are feeling the pain and rethinking their dependence on Russian oil, gas and coal. But the energy is global. When prices rise in Europe, we also feel the effects in the United States.
Sonoma Clean Power was launched in 2014 to build renewable energy systems faster, and we’ve made remarkable progress. Using proceeds from electricity sales alone, Sonoma Clean Power has built over $1 billion in new renewable energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by more than 30%. We have achieved this with lower average rates than PG&E. But when we look at the situation in Ukraine, we realize that there is still a lot to do.
California remains deeply vulnerable to economic and military attacks on our energy supply, which current gas prices make evident. While Sonoma Clean Power was created to help tackle the climate crisis, we see how building an energy system that uses wind, sunlight, water and geothermal heat is much safer than to depend on global products such as oil and gas. To that end, we are embarking on an initiative to eventually develop 500 megawatts of geothermal capacity in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. This effort will help the state transition out of natural gas and improve supply reliability.
The climate crisis is, of course, still critical to resolve, but it is reassuring to see that our efforts are paying off for national security as well.
Nationally, the effort to resuscitate and enact the climate provisions of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act must be a priority. The $555 billion potential for renewable energy and clean transportation includes two tax credits that could advance the adoption of electric vehicles. The proposal would increase the electric vehicle tax credit from $7,500 to $12,500 for low- and middle-income families and create a new credit of up to $4,000 for zero-emission used vehicles. Factoring in high gas prices, these measures would make electric vehicle purchases more financially viable for many Americans.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try an electric car. They’re fun, fast and much cheaper to maintain than gas-powered vehicles – no radiator, no transmission, no fuel pump. And cheaper on fuel. Not only will you save time and money, but by switching to clean, renewable energy, you can save the planet, create energy independence, and uphold peace and national security.
Petaluma Councilman David King is Chairman of the Board of Sonoma Clean Power.
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