Energy self-sufficiency in San Diego: A presentation to the city council

Jim Bell says that energy self-sufficiency is the answer to our energy cost and supply problems.

by Jim Bell

ear mayor and council, I'm here today to call for "regional energy self-sufficiency" to eliminate our dependency on imported energy resources.

If we were energy self-sufficient today, we'd be virtually unaffected by rising energy prices, whether it be electricity, natural gas or gasoline. We are past the point of complaining. Now is the time to eliminate the problem permanently.

If we aggressively pursue cost-effective efficiency improvements and the development of our region's renewable energy resources, we could be energy self-sufficient by 2015. Even without efficiency improvements, we could supply all the energy we currently use by installing solar cells on less than 8 percent of the land already covered by buildings, parking lots and roads. With efficiency improvements, we could achieve energy self-sufficiency with less than 3 percent coverage.

Becoming energy self-sufficient has many economic benefits. Currently, we export around 5 billion dollars each year out of San Diego County to pay for the energy we import. Becoming energy self-sufficient will bring this 5 billion dollars back to our local economy, which will increase yearly economic activity in our region by 10 to 20 billion dollars or by as much as 20 percent. Economists call this the multiplier effect.

Becoming energy self-sufficient will create thousands of new profitable business opportunities and tens of thousands of new good paying jobs. Since most of the people earning these wages and profits will be residents, most of the money they earn will be spent here, stimulating economic activity across the board.

Becoming energy self-sufficient will increase government revenues and reduce municipal costs.

More jobs and business will reduce government cost by reducing unemployment, homelessness, welfare, and crime. With more money in circulation, sales will increase and there will be more competition for property. This will translate into increased sales and property tax revenues. In other words, by becoming energy self-sufficient, governments save money while increasing revenue.

And, most importantly, becoming energy self-sufficient will put our citizens in control of the cost and availability of the energy upon which they are so vitally dependent.

Recognizing the economic and security win-wins available, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is aggressively installing solar cells on roof tops and over parking lots in their service area. California State subsidies, designed to increase solar cell installations statewide, already exist. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has just sweetened the pot by adding their own subsidy to the statewide program.

I think we can do better than Sacramento and LA in creating an energy secure future for our city and region. And, in achieving this goal, we can take world leadership in developing energy self-sufficient economies planet wide.

I'm putting my shoulder to the wheel toward making San Diego and our region energy self-sufficient. I'd greatly appreciate your help in this effort. Thank you.