Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Galindo: Use Incentives not Mandates

When it comes to the question of how to deal with environmental issues like Climate Change, the typical approach of the liberals is a mandate. Cap CO2. Restrict energy use. Force people to "do the right thing." Will Wynn's "Climate Protection" proposal, with the mandates for Point of Sale energy efficiency, takes that approach. Mandates are oppressive, expensive, and create regulation overhead. But ... are they even necessary?

It's a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) to see an approach for energy efficiency that uses incentives rather than mandates to get the job done. Cid Galindo is against the Point of Sale mandate, and in response to the "Well, what would you do?" question, he proposes incentives for "Green Collar" jobs to get the job done. This is more cost-effective, non-oppressive, and because it leaves it to people to make choices, it will have a lot more 'bang for the buck' in terms of actual benefit per dollar spent; it will do us the most good for the least cost.

Galindo is the best candidate for the position, and Morrison is the wrong choice for many reasons. Galindo's approach is another reason to support Galindo for City Council. His press release is below:

Galindo Calls For Creating 1,000 "Green Collar" Jobs

Dear Friends and Fellow Austinites,

Over the last two weeks, there has been a lot of back-and-forth about what the Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force is actually up to. In particular, there seems to be a lot of confusion about whether the task force supports mandatory energy efficiency inspections when a home is sold.

Let's start from the beginning. Read the language of the original resolution:

City Council Resolution 20071213-064 creates the Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force and directs it to recommend "efficiency retrofit and upgrade protocols" that "shall apply to owner-occupied residential properties at point of sale" and "shall include requirements for basic efficiency outcomes."

In short, the resolution states that the task force should develop an ordinance that requires energy efficiency upgrades before a home can be sold.

Less than three weeks ago, the task force issued a summary, which said that, if energy efficiency targets are not met through a Phase 1 voluntary program, then:

"...energy upgrades would automatically become mandatory" and that "after the first three years of Phase 2, the expenditure limit would be 1% of the sales price."

So, contrary to what some have said, mandatory inspections are still on the table. If the selling price of a home is $200,000, then expenditures of $2,000 could eventually be required. Very importantly, homes sold for $75,000 or less are exempted.

To borrow from a recently retired Texas Monthly publisher, "This is all just nuts!"

Instead of compromising homeowners' rights and wasting taxpayer dollars on an inefficient energy efficiency program, let's find a faster, more productive, and less contentious way to achieve the goal of greater energy efficiency in our existing homes.

Here's how we can do it:
• Austin Energy establishes a training program for local small businesses to train and qualify their personnel to perform residential energy efficiency assessments and upgrades.
• The City of Austin establishes a low-interest loan guarantee program so each of these local small businesses can privately access the capital needed to purchase equipment and materials to perform the upgrades.
• For small fee, Austin Energy advertises the new businesses' assessment and upgrade services to their hundreds of thousands of residential ratepayers in Austin.
• Residential clients pay no up front fee, but apply a portion of their rebates and electricity bill savings to pay for the upgrades until they are paid in full.

In less than a year, this program could create over a thousand "green collar" jobs and unleash an army of entrepreneurs to do much more quickly and efficiently what would take decades for a mandatory point of sale ordinance to accomplish.

This is the sort of solution the task force should be talking about, not how or when to impose mandatory costs on residents trying to sell their homes.

And it's the sort of solution you'll see me working for as your next City Council Member, Place 4.

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