American citizens must reject regulated power utilities and deregulation, and take control of their own distribution and transmission grids, according to a new book from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, US, 2001-04-04 <SolarAccess.com> “Policy makers and customers are looking to regain control over their electricity system, bringing power, both literally and figuratively, to the people,” says author David Morris in “In Seeing the Light: Regaining Control of our Electricity System.” The book argues that citizens must take charge of their electrons if they hope to regain reliability and peace of mind. Morris outlines the steps that are necessary to develop a flexible network of small-scale power plants, from renewable energy generators to microturbines and fuel cells. Consumers and communities have started to move in this direction, and the energy crisis in California has encouraged them to redefine their electric futures in ways that achieve reliability and low cost, as well as social and environmental goals, he explains. “Texas is rewriting its rules to encourage a new generation of on-site, small-scale power plants; Ohio has enacted legislation that encourages cities to become electricity buyers for their residents; Sacramento and Los Angeles have embraced a decentralized power approach focused on rooftop solar cells,” he writes. “Few Americans feel they understand, let alone have any say over, the intricate forces that determine whether their lights go on,” Morris explains. “In today’s energy system, we have become utterly dependent on distant power plants, long-haul transmission lines, and unaccountable decision-makers.” The book describes the changing technological and political context of the debate over energy policy, and offers strategies to shift both generating capacity and decision-making authority to the local level. “But the power plants of the 21st century will not flourish until cities and states adopt new rules that reject both the top-down regulated utility model of the past and the out-of-control deregulation of today,” he says. ILSR is a non-profit organization that supports environmental research. As a companion to the book, the group has created a section of the New Rules Project web site (www.newrules.org/electricity) that gives users the tools to become active participants in designing a new electricity system.