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Jul 192010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Two years ago, former Vice President Al Gore called for America to produce 100 percent of our electricity from energy sources with zero carbon emissions – and to do so within 10 years, declaring “this goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans — in every walk of life: our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and every citizen.”

Mar Vista neighborhood advocates James Brennan and John Ayers were inspired by Gore’s challenge, and soon launched a local petition drive to build support for a neighborhood goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2018. They also began organizing with other homeowners to negotiate a group discount on solar installations in their neighborhood.

In 2009, the group began conducting a series of events and workshops and the GoSolar Mar Vista community solar program soon became the largest group solar installation in Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) history, with 33 solar installations and over 105 kilowatts of electricity generation.

The Mar Vista Community Council voted last November to adopt a 100 percent clean electricity goal for the neighborhood. The MVCC Green Committee soon identified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Communities program as a key partnership opportunity toward achieving community-wide adoption of clean, renewable energy. The EPA’s requirement is simply for the community to purchase a minimum amount of green power through solar, wind, biomass or geothermal sources.

Working with the EPA and LADWP, Brennan and Ayers measured the neighborhood’s total electricity use and percentage of green power purchases. They found that 1.75 percent of the neighborhood’s electricity now comes from solar panels, and another 2.96 percent is purchased through the LADWP Green Power program. The combined 4.7 perecnt green power purchase is well above the 3 percent EPA green power purchasing requirement. The MVCC this week voted to partner with the EPA as a Green Power Community. All green power purchasing under the EPA program is voluntary.

Brennan and Ayers founded Open Neighborhoods in 2008 with a mission to connect and inform local neighborhoods with clean energy and open Internet access. The group has begun to expand its efforts beyond Mar Vista into surrounding neighborhoods, including Venice, Santa Monica, Del Rey and Culver City. Organizers said petition drives are now underway in these neighborhoods to build support and awareness of the 100 percent clean electricity goal.

Using a new service provided by EarthAid.net, residents in these communities can link up their utility accounts to compare savings use and earn rewards for energy savings.

Open Neighborhoods representatives said they are evaluating proposals from solar installers for a second community solar program to begin this August.