Means for Democracy (Tools for Better Self-Governance)

Building an Environmentally Sustainable, Spiritually Fulfilling, and Socially Just Community.
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In the State of the Union Address (January 24, 2012), President Obama said: "But with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, oil isn't enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. A strategy that's cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs. We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising."

Sierra Club comments on
Milpitas Climate Action Plan

(Rob Means was primary author.)

As Al Gore has been saying for years, "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change."

The good news is that solutions abound that can improve our economy, our environment and our general health and well-being. It may be challenging to incorporate solutions as quickly as needed, but the results could be a remarkable growth in jobs, environmental restoration, energy efficiency, and strong communities. Those benefits could inspire us to the big changes that we need now to survive, and even thrive, during the coming upheavals.

PACE Programs
Considering that buildings consume 49% of all energy used in the US and account for 75% of electricity usage, energy efficiency retrofits promise huge positive change. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an innovative mechanism used to fund energy efficiency and clean energy improvements.

Under this financial mechanism, municipalities create a financial district and, usually using local financial institutions, lend out money to individual homeowners and business owners to make their buildings and homes more energy efficient and also add solar panels or other clean energy solutions.

The property owner than pays back the loan through an additional payment on their property taxes to the local tax assessor-collector. However, because the investments are paid back over time, the property owner sees savings on their utility bills, making the loan more affordable.

Many low-income families are renters who do not own their homes. For those that do own their homes, few have enough tax liability to take full advantage of federal and state tax incentives for rooftop solar. Grid Alternatives, is a nonprofit organization providing low- to no-cost PV systems to low-income families throughout California. Homeowners who earn 80 percent or less of the median income and have a solar-appropriate roof qualify for a Grid Alternatives PV system. Working with Grid may be appropriate to extend our efforts to solarize Milpitas.

Recently, Milpitas ranked in the top ten California cities in how easy it is to get official permitting for solar installations - right up there with Menlo Park, Mill Valley, and Saratoga.

Contact Webmaster Rob Means at 408-262-8975,
    1421 Yellowstone Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035