Friday, September 16, 2005

Willits' energy audit

The city of Willits, California is in the news again. (I've previously written about them here.) They started with showings of The End of Suburbia, galvanized volunteers, formed committees, and ended with an energy audit by one of the subgroups.

They calculated their total megawatt/hour consumption subtracted the more than half that is spent on transportation. They then figured what their total locally produced, renewable energy capacity is and compared it with the first figure. The results are sobering. They would have to reduce their use by 25% through conservation.

"Those who equate sustainable energy with solar, water, and wind power, will be surprised that the largest component of the likely post-oil local energy mix is firewood." Air quality becomes a concern.

Even with conservation in place, the proposed alternate energy mix would not permit the current jump-in-the-car-and-go lifestyle to continue.

The personal vehicle may well be a thing of the past, the report concludes. It calls for the use of electric vehicles for transfer of necessary goods, services, and labor. Beyond that, restoration of rail lines, energy efficient bus service, and car-share cooperatives are on the to-do list.

Its a harsh reality, but reports like this are the place we need to start if we are going to solve our problems. We need to have a quantifiable starting point so that we know how to proceed. May a thousand energy committees bloom!

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