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Global warming policy debate in Berkeley

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Read this yesterday from the Mercury News:



After two years of public outreach and debate on an ambitious and controversial plan to curb global warming, Berkeley's city council this week was forced to water down the proposal — which initially required an energy audit of every home — after angry homeowners complained the plan could cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Experts say Berkeley's retreat may serve as a cautionary lesson to other cities and counties contemplating plans to fight global warming: Even residents of the nation's most liberal jurisdictions may balk when it comes to paying the price of going green.

What do you guys think?  Obviously our current economic climate doesn't help.  But how much do you think a city government (or government at large) could mandate homeowner stuff?

post #2 of 4

Homeowners can't easily see the long-term benefits gained by this initial cost.  Government could provide incentives for utility companies to reduce energy consumption.  The utilities would accomplish this by passing incentives through to homeowners, i.e. rebates and subsidies for energy efficient construction, renovation, materials, appliances, and energy audits.


Utility would still make a profit, consumers would still reduce their consumption, and the upfront costs could be offset, in part at least.

post #3 of 4

As long as energy is cheap there will be resistance. Let electricity costs go up by 3 & 4 times and see the reaction towards conservation.


Actually coming from the government, especially city governments where emotions are more important than anything else,  such moves are just 'big brother' types of actions which no one likes. There are more intelligent ways to approach the problem. 


Having the utilities do it using government incentives is just another inefficient tax mechanism which I would hope people would reject. Guess it would provide 'green' jobs to the new energy conservation bureaucrats who would just be a useless bunch.


Let the city pick 100 homes at random from the tax roles (in older areas of the city or under a certain appraised value) and provide them with free audits. The benefits could then be published for all to see. Then the city could work to assist those people in finding programs or obtaining financing to upgrade their homes. Try to get people on board without using a hammer.

post #4 of 4

Good points by Russ.  People tend to see the up-front costs and not long-term savings.  Berkeley would be well-served to put together an estimate of the average homeowner's cost for these audits and compare it to the average expected savings from implementing the audit suggestions.  If they don't have that data, as Russ suggested, pick a number of homes to test it out on and publish the results.

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