As we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day, this weekend, it is also fitting to think about energy independence.
This has been on a lot of people’s minds, especially as innovations such as Tesla’s energy storage Powerwall makes its way to market and people can actually create and store energy in their homes for use later.Many people want this off-the-grid functionality so they can purchase electric vehicles and charge them with energy produced by solar panels, or power their homes at night and when the sun doesn’t shine.
Energy independence has been used in a political sense in this country to mean independence from oil producing nations. That’s happening as the United States becomes a leading oil and gas producer of its own. But it also means independence from the huge global entities that dominate the energy markets in oil, natural gas, and coal. And Tesla’s not the only one competing in this space. SunPower, a rival to Tesla’s sister company Solar City, has its own energy storage system and lots of more affordable battery technologies are emerging to serve this need.
Then there are the electric utilities that want to thwart the net metering of solar panels because, quite simply, they want you to buy more energy. They don’t want to evolve into the integrated energy service companies they can be in a true, sustainable efficiency economy. Like Big Oil, Gas and Coal, they want to milk every last dollar from the market before they’re forced to change. And that’s bad news for our wallets, our environment, and our health.
So let’s think about what is written in the Declaration of Independence, and apply it to independence from Big Energy and their own oppressive reign.
Here’s the text of just the two well-known opening paragraphs, with apologies to Thomas Jefferson and edited only slightly to make this a Declaration of Energy Independence. Edits are in bold.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political energy bonds which have connected them with another huge global corporations, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government power becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers power-generating capacity in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments energy bonds long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government energy dependence, and to provide new guards for their future security.
As you can see, only a few simple changes are needed to create a Declaration of Energy Independence. We really are not far from where the Founding Fathers stood in opposition to the oppression of Britain and Kind George III. Just substitute big energy companies for them.
What other changes can we make to have a Declaration of Energy Independence?