Home | About | Donate

'Yet Another Alarm Bell': Ice Chunk Twice Size of Manhattan Breaks Off Greenland Glacier Amid Record Arctic Warming

Did you have an opinion on my question on who is the most progressive governor now (on issues that matter to you)?

It’s funny - I look back on who I’d rather have won the primary if it couldn’t be Sanders - Inslee wasn’t very impressive but I’d take him now in a heartbeat.

1 Like

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on state governors.
That said, my impression is that there are no truly progressive governors.

I write letters to mine – a moderate Dem – concerning a few issues several times a week.
She sends back pretty nice form letters. Some of my big concerns are coming to a head.
And I find myself actually hoping she might do the right thing.

Partly because I think she’s done a commendable job with her pandemic response.
We got hit badly early on. She shut shit down. She took a lot of heat. The reopening has been uneven.
But she didn’t back down and won a lot of respect. Her approval rating has been high.

Trump hates her. Trump hates just about everyone. Still, Trump’s hate is a badge of honor.

So, surprisingly, I’ll say, on a scale in which no governor is a true progressive, at least Gretchen Whitmer has shown some spine here and there.

1 Like

Newsom is pretty damn progressive governor on climate. So was Brown. There’s a big difference between setting and implementing policy, which is hard, and just commenting on stuff based on a few articles (guilty as charged here). The Department of Transportation just put out its new guidelines, per SB 743 and several other recent climate bills, for projects that induce demand on the highway system. Lead agencies in the state now have two options, widen highways and mitigate for new demand and GHG emissions, or fund other options to reduce congestion. Coupled with bills Newsom’s signed to expedite transit oriented and infill development, and you have the most pivotal pieces of climate change legislation signed by any governor sitting now.

The real issue is that addressing climate change is more than just the sexy stuff that lots of online progressives like to talk about. It’s hard stuff, like curbing sprawl, developing transportation alternatives, and reducing automobile use. Newsom is on the cutting edge of it (so was Brown), but we’ve decided he’s not progressive because of some drilling permits it’s not clear he was even aware of.

I can’t speak for anyone else in the ‘we’ group which I realize you aren’t in on this assessment of Newsom, but for me I have 3 litmus tests before I’m willing to call someone progressive (I realize the first doesn’t apply to the job of a state politician as I usually think of federal ones):

  1. Support a complete change in our war footing, the number of foreign bases, the size of our military and military budget, and in general our belligerent tone with other countries. Apologizing for our past mistakes is a bonus.

  2. Support and fight for M4A or alternatively a highly regulated insurance market referenced in ~https://pnhp.org/news/newsoms-flip-is-wrong-single-payer-is-the-answer-to-democrats-health-care-fights/ which is nothing like Medicare for Some nonsense from people like Pete Buttigieg. And in the case were somone’s first choice is a plan that involves private insurance, it has to be as mentioned in the PNHP article - a common plan that all doctors are in and still paid for by progressive tax dollars not flat fees, and in this case where someone is enamored with private insurance for some reason I will never understand, they have to be pledged to sign on to an M4A bill if that is the consensus direction.

  3. Support many changes necessary to change our environmental footing both on climate change and an many other issues that aren’t directly related.

As mentioned, I guess most governors don’t comment on 1) though I wish they did. And on 3), I might be open to passing Newsom if I spent some time on assessing everything he’s done on the environmental front. But on 2) he does not pass and will never be a progressive unless he changes his stance on M4A in my opinion. Note: I should add that I often argue that I’m skeptical of state M4A plans - @dpearl talks about multi-state plans as an alternative though CA is a very big state. I am worried about it working at the state level anywhere near how it would work at the federal level, but I would never support a governor impeding a state level move. And in this case Newsom’s rhetoric puts him in the position of opposing both a state and a federal move.

I would welcome dpearl’s take on this too (do you have an opinion on who is the most progressive governor and any comments you have on CA though I realize you are on the other side of the country - is Tom Wolf your governor?)

I get your point, I was specifically talking about the climate issue. It’s frustrating to me to see people miss the big picture in favor of easy answers and metrics (ban fracking!). As you know, California has a large renewable energy portfolio we’ve built over a decade now. Unfortunately, renewables aren’t as reliable as we’d like yet (technology and delivery constraints), which means we have to turn to other sources, mainly gas. We all lose if renewables look like they are unreliable. Whether gas comes from California or elsewhere, it’s projected to be part of the state’s mix until 2045, barring a sudden investment in nuclear.

If the rest of the country were doing what California’s doing, we’d be in an immensely better position. The state is actually doing a version of the GND, with a cap-and-trade program financing active transportation and mass transit investments, requiring solar on new homes, making substantiative land use changes (preferring infill development over sprawl), and now moving towards changing our constantly expanding highway setup. The difference is implementing policies is hard and payoff isn’t immediate, so it’s easier to tokenize an issue instead of looking at the bigger picture.

1 Like

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2018 I had my property assessed for solar power options. According to the reports, using just the roof of my house with static (non moving/sun tracking) solar panels, my humble house (less than 1500 sq. ft.) could offset 100% of the energy needs of my family AND two other similar households, DURING THE WINTER! I wanted to build several additional structures, like carports and patios, using solar panels. I calculate at least 5 similar households, besides my own, could be offset on my tiny suburban lot.

There were a couple of options available to me at the time.

The state was willing to pay for the installation of solar panels on my roof to offset my energy usage, as long as I bought energy from a third party provider during the offpeak hours. However, ( I wont bore you with details) PG&E was still my service provider (they did the billing [wink,wink]) and would only allow me to offset 90% of my usage in terms of size of solar array.

I could design and purchase (meaning get a loan to pay for it, most likely a mortgage attachment) any size solar array I wanted. The pricing is astronomical. Basically, I would be paying for this system for the rest of my life before I saw any real returns on investment, at which point, it would need to be replaced.

LOL!

What I learned was PG&E has a say in every aspect of the generation/transmission of power, even and especially if you own your own generation options. There are regulations/rules/laws to stiffle true deployment of renewable energy in California as of 2020, to provide benefit (profit) to PG&E.

My comment at Mother Jones.

~https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2020/08/transitioning-to-renewable-energy-isnt-so-simple-just-look-at-california

~https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/8/3/17638246/national-energy-grid-renewables-transmission

~https://www.invw.org/2020/08/20/who-killed-the-supergrid/

Not surprised by your experience at all. My folks had the same experience. The good news is that isn’t the case everywhere, especially in places where PG&E is limited to gas delivery, like where I am at. Moreover, new housing developments, as of 2020, are to include rooftop solar. There are some exemptions for places with lots of tree cover, etc, but in the Valley it will be the norm for new housing developments. That’s a genuine positive. That said, if those developments require longer congested commutes to, say, the Bay Area, then we may not get all the hoped for benefit.

1 Like

The Bay area is different, but in LA, the much higher electrical use is in the summer/early fall and a significant set of panels will use most of its power just to drive the AC in the worst months. But if you can tolerate a warmer inside temperature and/or your house is better insulated than the average one, things improve obviously. But the level you are citing (1 house supporting 3) does seem atypical.

We have SoCal Edison and a Propane tank, so I have no experience with PG&E, but I would like to see a lot more public utilities replace these private energy companies which aren’t looking at the big picture and trying to optimize our situation overall - they are just in it for themselves and their stockholders - on energy, that doesn’t cut it anymore.

There are no progressive governors in the United States. If you want a one-dimensional climate only evaluation then I would put Washington Governor Inslee ahead of Newsom - but of course, he’s a public option guy on health care and Newsom is probably a bit better in total. Mark Dayton of Minnesota is the only Governor who publicly supports single payer health care but has been pretty silent on climate change.

Tom Wolf doesn’t take a progressive stance on hardly anything - but also doesn’t take a conservative issue on anything so he’s been rated the most liberal governor by conservative organizations (e.g. positions like saying fracking is fine as long as you tax it so we can increase spending on education will get you that kind of rating).

There have been some good progressives that have competed well in the primaries like Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan - so I am hopeful we’ll have one win over for the next couple of cycles.

1 Like

Thanks for your reply. Another progressive star I would have loved to see win was Zephyr Teachout (in 2014 she got 34% of the vote for the NY governor primary whereas El-Sayed who I also liked of course got 30% in 2018)

1 Like

I do specify similar households, perhaps I should clarify with “energy usage”.
The point however is the people in charge aren’t selling solar for real, serious change. It’s just a token exercise in public relations. When the “energy companies”, which used to be oil companies, only a few years ago, have milked fossil fuel dry of profits they’ll be knocking on my door to install a very efficient solar array on my property and the neo-carpetbaggers will only charge me a small monthly service fee. /s
You are correct to assume my situation is atypical. The orientation of my roof angles maximize sun exposure. There isn’t much tree obstruction either. I was shocked to discover just how much power I could generate. I was also shocked to find no interest in building a proper array. The sales people were very careful answering my questions. Unfortunately for them I got the info I wanted. As I discovered, I was misinformed because the companies are telling me what I know.

I have looked at and posted here on aggregate rooftop potential solar numbers compared to our total energy usage, and it is a bit disheartening (~https://commons.commondreams.org/t/dncs-climate-council-urges-party-to-go-beyond-biden-plan-calling-for-fracking-ban-and-16-trillion-renewable-energy-investment/79163/50 if you are interested). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing - it absolutely is, but rooftop solar cannot supply a healthy fraction of or total US energy usage - it would be great if it could as we wouldn’t need to do offshore wind, perhaps solar over area besides roofs, major conservation efforts and changes in consumption habits, etc. (I’m for people having smaller families, but that won’t do anything significant for 50-100 years if we started now).

But your example shows we aren’t even capable of exploiting the resource that should be one of the easiest to permit and deploy - no noise, no land usage, etc. I’m for breaking up all the energy companies, replacing with utilities who have a vision for our future grids and including as many generating sources of electricity as can be made available. It’s understandable that a homeowner can’t be paid retail price for electricity to supply their neighbor as that ignores the infrastructure and labor cost of the company moving the power around, but the financials should be made to incentivize right now and plans for adapting the grid and developing the least impact most recyclable panels possible need to be discussed right now. I have no faith anyone important is talking about this.

1 Like

Interestingly, when people talk about financial incentives for roof top solar they usually only include the Federal tax credit, state credits where they exist and the saved cost of energy. They neglect the increased value of the home which is the biggest incentive of all on the strictly financial accounting side of things. For example, the system we are installing includes 56 panels producing 18.2 kW that costs about $42K up front which is reduced to $31K after the Federal tax credit - and is estimated to increase the value of our home by about $25K bringing our actual cost to just $6K or so (which is made up in just a couple of years of energy cost). Now I realize that most people can’t come anywhere near being able to pay for that huge up front cost and so they end up renting or paying high interest rates to make the move - so the banks and Wall Street win again as @Elcil points out.

So here is my modest proposal:

  1. The Federal government moves the solar tax credit to about 40% of cost
  2. The Federal government provides a loan for the other 60% at the rate of treasury bonds - but no payments are due until the person sells their house. If, upon selling their house, the person moves into a different home with a comparable system then they don’t have to pay back the loan until they sell that next house (etc…). The carry over rule also applies to moves into apartments or nursing homes where electrical power is provided by renewable sources.
  3. Apartment building owners who include utilities in their rental agreements would also be eligible for the loan program if they pass the energy savings on to their renters.

Thus, people could install those systems without any up front costs. The amount of electricity would cover pretty much all regular residential usage (but not other electricity needs as you point out) and the carry-over rule would sustain the advantage for home prices for those that do the installation.

Thoughts?

1 Like

I like that idea a lot. What do you think about requiring solar on new homes? As I mention above, as of this year, that’s what California is doing. The catch is in some areas, like northeast Sacramento, new developments are being built a long way from public transit and the downtown business corridor. I’ve seen emissions estimates related to some of the new “green” developments that are pretty disheartening.

California’s solar requirement on new homes seems reasonable to me. Whether any big developments should be built on prime agricultural land far from resources is another matter.

In response to the article itself…
I have been watching, reading, and listening to the climate debate for about 40 years.
I wonder if it is already too late in all honesty.

~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice%E2%80%93albedo_feedback
~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation#Effects_on_global_climate
~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification#Ocean_acidification_and_mass_extinction_events_in_the_geologic_past

Cc: @KC2669

Wow that is disappointing - I had seen those ratings and assumed naively that Wolf was better than this. Hopefully you get a good progressive challenger next time.

I think I’m going to add a point on your list (voting rights) to my 3 litmus tests as I forgot about something that Newsom did that drove me absolutely bonkers - he vetoed ranked choice voting. I was reminded by the latest Jimmy Dore video (~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Pahmlugec), but it is also covered in many places in print (e.g., ~https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Gavin-Newsom-vetoes-bill-to-allow-ranked-choice-14535193.php). I will never ever vote for Newsom because of this veto. So make that 4 litmus tests for me for a federal politician, 3 for a state one and Newsom fails on 2 out of 3. I sure hope we get a progressive challenger soon too.

So are you saying the 40% subsidies are temporary? Because if not, an existing system is not going to add $25k to the home if the new homeowner could have put on a brand new one for 0.6*42 = 25k. There has got to be some depreciation in there even if they are only a year old or so (everything but land/location depreciates).

Carryover stuff always confuses me (I suck at tax optimization and investing too). But if the panels really do improve the house value for at least as much as the outstanding loan, wouldn’t the homeowner get the money to just pay off the loan when they sell the house?

I’m not really pushing back since I’ll admit I’m not that knowledgeable about this sort of thing. My main interest in solar now is on sustainability (I haven’t looked into it for a while, but in general my understanding is that panel systems have to landfill everything at EOL which is a drag) and on my particulars which is tree shading. So I should be following micro-inverters more closely as I was told about 4 years ago that my roof was not suitable unless I used micro inverters (too many oak trees shading the roof and the shadow position changes over time of course) and this installer I talked to wasn’t that keen on the reliability and cost of micro inverters at the time but was optimistic they would be mainstreamed at some point.

Thanks for the comments, which point out that economic incentives are always hard to deal with in law. I was trying to structure a level playing field incentive since the main solar incentives now only accrue to those that can afford the up front costs.

The Obama tax credit was 30% and is scheduled to phase out since it has not been renewed by Trump (reduced to 26% this year then 22% next year and then it disappears). I was proposing to raise it “permanently” - with a provision to end it if conditions regarding the environmental impact of solar panels changes (I think these kinds of laws should be based on conditions on the ground, not on fixed time periods). For example, 50 years ago I got a subsidy from both California and the Federal government for converting my car from gas to propane - which was good for the main environmental concerns at the time - but it took too long for the subsidies on that to be terminated once other environmental impacts were better understood.

Regarding depreciation - yes the added value to the home goes down over time. This is no different than the increased value in your house that you get by, say, putting on a new roof or doing any other improvements. I was modeling my proposal off of a New York program that my in-laws took advantage of in the 1980s when they were alive. That program allowed low to moderate income seniors to stay in their homes by taking out an interest free loan from the state of up to $25K to do energy efficiency projects and basic repairs and remodeling needed for health and safety (included stuff like roof repair, sidewalk & driveway repair, mold remediation, handrails, etc…). The loan had to be repaid if they left their home from moving or from death.

Our system uses Enphase IQ7 microinverters and the whole system is supposed to last 25 years (if I am to believe the warranty). I have not investigated their reliability data.

Regarding the carry-over idea - I was modeling that off of the carry-over provisions we have in current law for home appreciation (i.e. you don’t have to pay capital gains taxes on your home when you move if you go into another home of comparable value - but the capital gain itself transfers into the new home so you still owe it).