As the 2021 United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference is coming to a close, its clear the efforts being agreed to by world governments, political leaders and environmental organizations will result in change, but also it will be woefully inadequate. As former President Barack Obama (D) called upon the youth, to stay angry because, “They have more at stake in this than anybody else,” we are confronted with our own challenges.
The climate changes, global warming, and extreme weather conditions are all products of how we live our lives. As conspicuous consumers, htp to Thurstein Velben, who coined the phrase conspicuous consumption in 1899, we are a product of our environment, and our environment is something we have also shaped significantly. What we do each day, through the use of petroleum products, gasoline, plastic and goods transported long distances and electricity has a major impact on the world around us.
Now, we are not calling for a return to the Dark Ages, but rather a simple personal assessment of what we do on a daily basis and having an account for our own influences we apply. Yesterday, we read an interesting Facebook posting from a former influential legislator in the environmental space, Rep Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis) who stated of an energy efficient water heater picture, “Science tells us electrification is the solution to fossil fuel pollution. Reducing emissions 50% by 2030 requires individual action as well as structural change. So as one of our individual actions we replaced our gas hot water heater with a super efficient hybrid air source heat pump electric hot water heater—healthier for us & the earth. The estimated yearly energy cost is $113. Xcel has rebates but they are not enough. It’s time for the State to provide additional rebates. All Minnesotans should have an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and have healthier air & lower energy costs.”
It would have seemed as the Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Division Chair; this policy position should have been a key focal point during her term of office. But with opposition in the Senate to climate change, addressing long-term global problems and science, the myopic approach to near term fights, political posturing and a staunch obstruction to logic where more the rule than the exception.
We ourselves have witnessed the minimalistic application of Xcel Energy Rebates on a million-dollar new construction building, in which the amount given back for utilization of high-efficiency technology results in a pittance of a mere $26,449, with an annual cost savings of 15,050 Kw. Seems to us the problem isn’t due to the lack of laws, rules or policies, but rather the existing system.
When a state-sponsored, investor-based monopoly exists, the regulation will never be adequate and the only real factor necessary to advance the public good is a publicly vested entity. The ultimate superior should not be the investors in the company but rather the community affected by the energy provided. Sure Xcel Energy is striving for a NetZero Carbon goal in 2050, but if other hands held the wheel of power, would a public utility arrive there faster. Also, the gouge, is clearly felt when Xcel seeks a rate increase of 20% over the next 3-years from the Public Utilities Commission.
Sure, wrestling the control from a legacy industry is a tough slough, but do we have the time to waste fighting for who is in control, when its clear there isn’t much more time at hand. We can fiddle while Rome burns as Nero did, and fight over “stranded investment” over the existing electrical infrastructure or power plants, power line, transformers and alike, but why bother. If the public interest is in dynamic rapid change, then assertion of rights to these investments are not company assets, but rather items facilitated by the monopoly provided by the public and it eminent interest supersedes any ownership claims.
In this case Power to the People is the only answer.