DECEMBER 18 - DECEMBER 24, 2009
MARiN’S BEST EVERY WEEK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Why am I spending 30 bucks to listen to a song called ‘Aria of Wondrous Elixir’? [SEE PAGE 21]
All in Good Taste
Grand jury’s shocking energy advice… 9
Eat local for the holidays!
Narada Claus is comin’ to town
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â€şâ€ş STAFF â€˜Hurtâ€™ so good: Local critics honor incendiary IED drama. Newsgrams, p. 8. 7 8 9 13 14 22 24 27 28 29 30 31 32 35 37 38
Letters Upfront Behind the Sun/Trivia CafĂŠ/ Heroes & Zeros That TV Guy Holidays in the Sun Open Homes Food All in Good Taste Music Talking Pictures Film Movies Sundial ClassiďŹ eds Horoscope Advice Goddess
PUBLISHER - Sam Chapman (x315) EDITORIAL Editor: Jason Walsh (x316); Reporter: Samantha Campos (x319); Movie Page Editor: Matt Stafford (x320); Copy Editor: Carol Inkellis (x317); Calendar Editor: Anne Schrager (x330) CONTRIBUTORS Lee Brady, Greg Cahill, Pat Fusco, Richard Gould, Marc Hershon, Richard P. Hinkle, Brooke Jackson, Brenda K. Kinsel, Jill Kramer (x322), Lois MacLean, Joel Orff, Rick Polito, Renata Polt, Peter Seidman, Nikki Silverstein, Annie Spiegelman, David Templeton, Barry Willis. Books Editor: Elizabeth Stewart (x326) ADVERTISING Advertising Director: Linda Black (x306) Senior Display Representative: Dianna Stone (x307) Display Sales: Ethan Simon (x311), Linda Curry (x309); Inside Sales: Helen Hammond (x303); Courier: Gillian Coder; Traffic Coordinator: Amanda Deely (x302)
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›› LETTERS All you need is love I am greatly disturbed by the folks who are so upset about two Disney princesses dancing on the cover [Oct. 23]. Get over it. We have such ﬁne “family values” in our country— where education and healthcare and plain common sense all need to have a bake sale to ﬁnd funding, while most of our tax dollars go to war and killing people. We are bankrupt—economically and morally. You know what Jesus would do, and it is not fearing, hating or killing. If you are not about love and kindness, or washing another’s feet, then you really should look to see how far what you profess is from the reality of the master and how he lived. Love is what matters. Period. Sierra Salin, Fairfax
Here comes the sun With last week’s international climate conference in Copenhagen, the world’s attention is focused on global warming and the resulting coastal ﬂooding and extreme weather patterns. An article in the respected World Watch magazine suggests that most manmade greenhouse gases responsible for global warming are emitted, not from industrial smokestacks or car exhausts, but from meat and dairy production. Chief greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate feed crop, factory farm and slaughterhouse machinery, trucks and refrigeration equipment. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged
from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively. Whatever the 190 nations’ representatives decide in Copenhagen, each of us can help reduce global warming three times a day. Our local supermarket stocks a rich variety of soybased lunch “meats,” hot dogs, veggie burgers, dairy products and ready-to-eat frozen dinners, as well as a vast cornucopia of more traditional fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Patrick Sullivan, Mill Valley
Dig a pony The Christmas season is in full swing, and PETA is asking revelers to spread goodwill to animals by keeping them out of their holiday plans. Here are the top ﬁve reasons to skip reindeer photo ops, horse-drawn car- Horses and other large animals riage rides and liv- are simply ill-equipped for a life ing Nativity scenes: of public performance. It’s not uncommon for animals used in holiday displays to be sent to slaughter when the season is over. Congested streets and mall parking lots are no place for horses. Horses and humans alike have been seriously hurt—some fatally— when horses have been spooked by an unexpected noise and run amok. Reindeer can transmit numerous diseases to humans, including anthrax, salmonellosis, rabies and ringworm. Constantly being exposed to public interaction often leaves animals stressed and fearful. Over the years, animals in holiday displays
TOP POSTINGS THIS WEEK
Napa Wine Train to receive $54 million of Stimulus Money Sen. John McCain said that it was “silly and shortsighted” to fund this ﬂood control project on the Napa river for a tourist wine train. He has put this project on the list Upfront: 24 hour party people If the Republican Party has been the “party of no,” the Democratic community organizing effort has been the party of “can we talk?” (to paraphrase a Joan Rivers line). Read... What happened to Merry Christmas In my line of business, I meet a lot of Marinites all year long. I’m amazed at how few are willing to to say “Merry Christmas”. Even when I say it, they come back with Happy H...
Your soapbox is waiting at ›› paciﬁcsun.com have snapped and made a break for it, and they have paid with their lives after being hit by cars or dying from shock. Understaffed and overburdened animal control departments don’t have the resources to monitor these displays and enforce compliance with anti-cruelty laws. This Christmas, give animals the best gift of all by refusing to support these kinds of exploitative displays. Peace and goodwill to all. Jennifer O’Connor Animals in Entertainment Campaign, PETA
Baby, you’re a rich man God wants us to love one another with no strings attached. Even the unloved, the unwanted and the unneeded. If you are rich you want to go to heaven— and you don’t want your in-laws wishing you were dead before your time so they could get at all your money. Or when you do die, you do without honor, for being greedy all your life. But you can do something good with your money, like helping those who are really in need. Give away all the money you don’t need to the poor. If you do, even after 100 years have passed when you are dead and gone, people will still say good things about you—and look up to you and God’s light will live through your good work. For years to come. Robbie Willis, San Rafael
Nowhere man I’m writing in regard to David Templeton’s story about how adults found the truth out about Santa [“Santa—The Whole Shocking Story,” Dec. 11]. The past few years much has been written and broadcast about the Norman Rockwell’s 1939 Post commercialization cover, ‘Extra Good Boys and sold in 2007 for over $2 of Christmas and Girls,’ million. Now that’s what we the danger of de- call a true believer. luding children by allowing them to believe in Santa Claus (as if we could stop them). People say that they don’t believe in Santa
because you can’t see him and he does impossible things. Well, then perhaps people should not believe in God because you can’t see him and he does impossible things. I, for one, do believe in Santa Claus for the following reasons: He is happy and jolly and he likes red, which makes a cold December brighter. He is kind to animals because when I leave treats for his reindeer they are always eaten, even if they are “sweets.” He is able to ﬂy around the world far faster than the speed of light and go down chimneys much smaller than his belly. I believe in Santa because he never worries about whether you are poor or rich, black or white, yellow or tan, or Jewish or Christian, or Buddhist or Muslim or Shinto or atheist or agnostic or young or old, just as long as you believe. He never mentions dieting; in fact, he believes in sugarplums and often gives sweets. He cares only about surprise, and giving and loving and never once has asked for anything in return, except that we try to be good. He thinks it is fun to laugh. “Ho, ho, ho.” I believe in Santa because his mode of transport does not pollute our air. I believe in Santa because he offers hope and one may anticipate for 364 days of the year. One can ask him for anything—a toy, a car, world peace, true love and he never says “no.” He teaches me “if one Christmas is a ﬂop, even Santa makes mistakes and it is wrong for me to ask the impossible of a ‘quite jolly old elf.’” He teaches children the joy of receiving and as they grow older the “good” boys and girls become the givers because they want to give joy to others and make them as happy as they were when Santa gave to them. He taught me when I was very young that believing makes it true and so I learned that Santa Claus is real because the little known “clause” in Claus is this: When you ﬁgure it all out and stop believing in him in your immature, childhood way, you must become him and then forever and ever, and for all time he is as real as real can be. Ruth W. Scott, Mill Valley
Put your stamp on the letters to the editor at ›› paciﬁcsun.com DECEMBER 18 – DECEMBER 24, 2009 PACIFIC SUN 7
Runaway grand jury? Clean energy proponents hear voice of PG&E in scathing grand jury report by Pe te r Se i d m an
he title of the recent grand jury report about Marin Clean Energy leaves little doubt as to the intentions of the grand jurors. The title: “Pull the Plug.” Far from being a rational piece of reasoned investigation, the report is neither accurate nor fair, say Marin Clean Energy proponents. County Supervisor Charles McGlashan, who also is chairman of the Marin Energy Authority board, puts it bluntly: “I’m not surprised at all. I could tell from the orientation of the members and the types of questions raised that it was going to end up being a hit job.” Ed Mainland, a member of Sustainable Novato and a longtime participant in Marin’s sustainability movement, says he sees the ﬁngerprint of PG&E. “The grand jury report is sort of a mini-scrapbook cut and paste job from PG&E talking points.” Novato, Corte Madera and Larkspur are the only cities that have declined to become members of the Marin Energy Authority, a joint powers agency. PG&E has spent serious time and money trying to quash attempts across the state to form local power agencies under a state program that allows what’s called community choice aggregation. The Marin Energy Authority formed in December 2008. It isn’t the ﬁrst of its kind in the state. The San Joaquin Valley Power Authority paved a trail for other entities in the state interested in creating public power agencies. When news broke that San Joaquin was suspending its efforts to break away from PG&E, opponents of public power said the experience should be a cautionary tale for Marin.
But, say Marin Clean Energy proponents, rather than act as a cautionary tale about energy markets and public power, the San Joaquin story actually is a cautionary tale about the tactics PG&E has been using to block public power plans. After the state law passed in 2002 that allows cities and counties to form their own public power agencies, the San Joaquin agency, which comprises 12 jurisdictions in the Central Valley, was out in front of the pack. “San Joaquin started the request for proposals process in November of 2007,” says Dawn Weisz, a Marin County sustainability planner and interim director of the Marin Energy Authority, “and they had locked in a deal with one supplier in January 2008.” But before it could start to provide power, PG&E pressured the agency to sign an agreement that would have allowed the cities and towns in the agency to be responsible for any debts and liabilities of the authority’s programs. And that, says Weisz, “is contrary to state law.” The utility raised the issue before the California Public Utilities Commission, which resulted in a six-month delay in implementing the public power contract with an energy supplier. The utilities commission ruled in favor of the San Joaquin agency. PG&E ﬁled an appeal, which caused another delay. By the end of that process, the energy market “had changed dramatically,” says Weisz. San Joaquin, however, is taking another crack at local energy. That kind of blocking tactic was seen in Marin when PG&E offered Novato a special 10 > deal if the city would turn its back on
›› NEWSGRAMS Metallica frontman donates land James Hetfield, vocalist for Metallica, has donated 330 acres of his property overlooking Lucas Valley to Marin County for agricultural preservation. Previously, Hetfield donated more than 400 acres to the county for open space. The county is also in talks with Hetfield about an estimated $200,000 project to reroute the Luiz Ranch Fire Trail on his property, which is currently obstructed by a fence. In September, Metallica played a sold-out benefit concert for the Marin History Museum, which received approval this week from the San Rafael Planning Commission to operate its Marin Rocks rock ‘n’ roll exhibit at 850 Fourth St. in downtown San Rafael. —Samantha Campos Local film critics honor ‘Hurt Locker’ The Hurt Locker has been named best picture of 2009 by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, a collective of film writers from such Bay Area publications as the Pacific Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Palo Alto Weekly, among others. The critics’ group also named Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow as the year’s best director. Other honorees include Colin Firth as best actor in A Single Man and Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Julia Child in Julie & Julia. Other awards went to Christian McKay for his supporting performance in Me and Orson Welles; Mo’Nique for supporting actress in Precious; Coraline for best animated feature; Quentin Tarantino for his original screenplay to Inglourious Basterds; Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach for their adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox; and Roger Deakins for cinematography in A Serious Man. Rounding out the awards were You, the Living for foreign language film and Anvil! The Story of Anvil as best documentary.—Jason Walsh Point Reyes oyster farm fined for clams Drakes Bay Oyster Co. received a $61,250 fine from the California Coastal Commission for cultivating clams within a harbor seal protection area. Kevin Lunny, owner of the controversial Point Reyes oyster farm, said the clams were placed in the area mistakenly, due to faulty navigational equipment. Confusion about placement started in 1993, when the former Johnson’s Oyster Co. applied to the state Fish and Game Commission for permission to grow clams in a 1,000-plus-acre section of the bay—the commission granted a permit for a 1-acre parcel designated for scallop production, so Johnson’s grew the clams in the larger area. When Lunny took over operations in 2005, the farm continued clam production in the area and while he petitioned the commission to change the designation, an inspector ordered the farm to move the clams—which is when, Lunny said, the bivalves were erroneously placed using Fish and Game coordinates. —SC Shorts... The 142 Throckmorton Theatre has begun its “New 142” fundraising campaign with the help of an anonymous donor who has offered to match up to $50,000 in donations from the community through the end of December 2009. For more info, call 415/383-9611 or visit online at www.142ThrockmortonTheatre.org...Thirty county employees have volunteered to retire early in exchange for a $25,000 bonus. The elimination of the 30 positions, effective March 31, 2010, is expected to save the county $3.1 million annually. —SC EXTRA! EXTRA! Post your Marin news at ›› paciﬁcsun.com
8 PACIFIC SUN DECEMBER 18 - DECEMBER 24, 2009
›› BEHiND THE SUN
From the Sun vaults, December 15 - 21, 1989
›› TRiViA CAFÉ
Lost in the supermarket music
1. “The more self-centered and egotistical a guy is, the better ballplayer he’s going to be,” is attributed to this athlete who attended Terra Linda High School in the 1960s, pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and was known as “Spaceman” due to his outrageous behavior. Who is he? 2. Which plant, common around Christmas time, contains poisonous berries that should not be eaten? 3. Our paper money has this formula: 75 percent material A, and 25 percent material B. What are A and B? 4. Based on the music of rock band Queen, this musical opened in London’s West End in 2002, and is being produced in many countries of the world as we speak. What’s the title? 5a. The fall of the 800-year-old Roman Empire was hastened by the #5 Sack of Rome on August 24, 410, when the city was conquered by Alaric I, leader of what barbarian East Germanic tribes? 5b. What form of art and architecture is inspired by these tribes? 5c. In what century was this French miniature painting of the Sack of Rome created? 6. In 1966-67, this man rented the top two floors of the Desert Inn, refused to check out, purchased the hotel and was left in peace. Who was he? 7. What does it mean to “86” someone or something? Give a few answers. What’s the origin? 8. U.S. President Johnson, his wife and two daughters were all known as LBJ. Name them all. 9. What country of the world has the second largest number of Internet users? (total, not per capita) 10. Millions of sports fanatics join fantasy leagues and get points based on the accomplishments of their dream team. What is a tasty name for these sports leagues?
Marin—Live at the Acropolis! by Jason Wals h
Discuss ‘Yanni Live at the Acropolis’ with Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blast into Marin’s past with more Behind the Sun at ›› paciﬁcsun.com
BONUS: Two years before his death in 1998, Frank Sinatra’s daughter Nancy asks her father what he wants for Christmas, and Frank replies,“Another...” what? Howard Rachelson, Marin’s Master of Trivia, invites you to a live team trivia contest at 7:30pm every Wednesday at the Broken Drum on Fourth Street in San Rafael. Join the quiz—send your Marin factoids to email@example.com.
Answers on page 35
▲ MB of Corte Madera alerted us ▼ Another reader complained
to a group of strangers who helped her family earlier this month. One day, while MB’s son was walking their dog on Tamal Vista Boulevard, a car swerved into the dog—which, spooked, ran away. Witnessing the hit-and-run, Mary Connolly and her daughter Kelsey ran after the pooch for several blocks and, even though the dog was in shock and growling at them, they were able to lead MB to her. Then helpful passerby Quail Baez gave them her leash and a blanket so they could secure the injured canine and get her to emergency care, while samaritan Leslie Jacobs comforted MB’s son and called ahead to the vet.
noted Workman. “And our people need this music for personal growth.” Some of the genre’s biggest fans, he said, were investment bankers, doctors and real estate brokers. North Bay New Age record producer Neil Sapper cautioned, however, that too much success could be a “killer” for the new style. “We don’t want to be like the other guys,” Sapper said, referring to the kind of catchy, enjoyable songs often heard on the airwaves. “I mean, radio was dying a couple of years ago because it had grown so stale, with fformats that were afraid to b be adventurous.” And any sstyle willing to encompass 330-minute-long sequencer rruns in songs about faeriies with lyrics written in SSanskrit was nothing if n not adventurous. But whatever you do, w warned Sausalito New A Age record producer Terrrence Yallop, don’t call it “N “New Age.” “We all in some way dislike th the term New Age,” yelped Y Yallop. “The music is now rreaching beyond the crossllegged incense burners or m metaphysical explorers who w were initially interested in it.” M More popular descriptions circu culating among New Age musiccians at the time included “adult ccontemporary,” “contemporary iinstrumental” and “adult conttemporary instrumental.” Whatever they called it, the soothing sounds of the Paciﬁc Ocean at high tide set against the sustained drone of John Tesh’s polyphonic synth pad was deﬁnitely Marin’s new rock ’n’ roll. It certainly was for the emerging KKSF radio station in San Francisco, anyway, “where New Age recording artists like Yanni and Patrick O’Hearn are sandwiched between harder acts like Tracy Chapman and David Sanborn,” station music director Nick Francis said with no hint of irony. “When you’re in the Top 10 for adults age 25 to 54 you’re in a very enviable position,” said Francis. “What we play is contemporary instrumental music that has mass appeal with the same aspects that a regular pop song would have.” Added Francis: “Although if you can dance to it, we probably won’t play it.” <
Marin music lovers had ﬁnally become adult contemporaries 20 years ago this week. years ago It was December of 1989 and popular music was in a state of alarming transition. Punk was dead, James Brown was in prison and Ice Cube had left N.W.A. So Marin County music makers seized the opportunity to single-handedly reinvigorate American popular music—by stripping it of all its energy, immediacy and excitement. Marin, according to music producer Lloyd Barde, had become the unofﬁcial “mecca of the New Age music market.” “Critics call it yuppie Muzak, the sounds of Sominex, or elevator music for the ’90s,” wrote Paciﬁc Sun staff reporter Greg Cahill in his story “Bay Area Boom in New Age Music.” “But for a growing number of Marin businesses, it has the sweet sound of success.” And sweet it was. New Age music ﬁrst meandered into America’s subconscious in the mid-1960s, mostly as mood music for Zen meditation. But the new genre really came of age, as it were, in the 1970s and ’80s as already semi-dormant jazz and experimental rock bands like the Pat Metheny Group, Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd lapsed even further into the Land of Nod with quirky electronic burps and tape-looped animal noises—and sold a ton of records in the progressive-pop process. Soon, a thousand ethereal synth bands were born—most of which, it turned out, were from Marin. Such local New Age acts as Ray Lynch, the Turtle Island String Quartet, Denny Zeitlin, Constance Demby, Jim Chappell, Steven Halpern and Montreaux were just the tip of the iceberg lettuce on the Marin supermarket music scene. Following two decades of antiestablishment rocking, it appeared, the baby boomers just wanted to relax. After a youth with middle ﬁngers raised valiantly at the face of unchecked materialism and establishment corruption, Marin hands were now locked in collective shuni mudra. Marin, in fact, was the logical place to become the epicenter of the movement, record company consultant Geoffrey Workman told the Sun. “We live in a very afﬂuent county,”
by Howard Rachelson
recently of using a coupon mailer from a local salon for a “mini-facial,” which she said specifically stated the inclusion of a professional “deep pore extraction.” But after waiting 20 minutes, she opined, the facial was nothing but superficial moisturizers. When questioned, the salon aesthetician said the ad was a “mistake”— despite our reader having seen the same advertisement displayed for months. In conclusion, our reader laments her time wasted—and her poor passed-over pores persist plugged and pullulating. Um, ew. —Samantha Campos
Got a Hero or a Zero? Please send submissions to scampos@paciﬁcsun.com. Toss roses, hurl stones with more Heroes and Zeros at ›› paciﬁcsun.com DECEMBER 18 - DECEMBER 24, 2009 PACIFIC SUN 9
Originally called “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act,” it is a constitutional amendment that mandates a two-thirds vote in any jurisdiction that seeks to create a public power agency and break away from an existing utility power grid. It also would require an agency like Marin Clean Energy to garner a two-thirds vote in a proposed new expansion area, as well as hold a separate election in the existing service area. In other words, before expanding, a public power agency would need a two-thirds vote from its entire customer base. Proponents of community choice power agencies say it is a blatant attempt to use the almost insurmountable two-thirds rule to effectively block local power. The timing of the grand jury report comes as the Marin Energy Authority is nearing a Feb. 4 vote that will decide whether it accepts a contract with an energy wholesaler. McGlashan and others say the report was the subject of a suspicious leak. It seems PG&E had a copy of the report before the grand jury released the document. An e-mail from a Mill Valley resident to members of the Mill Valley City Council says the resident received the report Dec. 4 from David Rubin, PG&E’s director of service analysis. The report was released to the public Dec. 7, although it’s dated Dec. 2. That early release by the PG&E representative is illegal. McGlashan ﬁled a formal complaint with the county district attorney. The allegation that the grand jury report is slanted in favor of PG&E also rests on a serious omission. Among the ﬁndings in the
< 8 Runaway grand jury? the Marin Clean Energy proposal and stick with PG&E. That violates state law, and PG&E had to back away from the proposal. Those kinds of shenanigans fall in stark contrast to the grand jury report, which says the effort to pursue Marin Clean Energy should be abandoned in an attempt to work with “local foundations, federal, state and local agencies and PG&E to foster cooperation.” That seems odd to proponents of Marin Clean Energy, who tried for months to work with PG&E to arrive at a plan that would meet the clean energy requirements of the new local power agency. “We worked very closely in many meetings with PG&E to ﬁnd a way that they could meet the local goals around renewable energy,” says Weisz, “and they ultimately cut off those discussions in April of this year, after we had spent a lot of time trying to craft something. They were unwilling to put anything on paper that we had worked on over a four-month period. And after that, they were reprimanded by the California Public Utilities Commission for the [special] offer they had put on paper” in Novato. The suggestion that PG&E would be willing to engage in a cooperative effort with local power agencies seems even stranger in light of the ballot measure the utility company is working on. PG&E is behind a measure aimed at the June 2010 ballot that some say would kill public power in the state if voters approve it.
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that many questions remain unanswered concerning the Marin Clean Energy proposal, questions that have been asked and answered numerous times as proponents have made the rounds of city councils and public meetings. At each step along the way, and in letters to the editor, a curious similarity in criticism crops up, which suggests PG&E talking points. And those same talking points seem to be embedded in the grand jury report. One of the criticisms of the energy plan that turns up repeatedly, including an allegation in the grand jury report, is the assumption that the proposal will put taxpayers at serious risk in a program that’s never been tried in California. In addition, the report cites a New York Times story about a power entity in Florida that promised to deliver solar power, but much of the money raised went to administrative costs. That kind of anecdotal evidence does a disservice to the grand jury because the fact that one energy agency was mismanaged in Florida proves nothing about the overall efﬁcacy of community choice and local power. What the report fails to give adequate attention to are the successful community choice local power agencies that already operate in Massachusetts and Ohio. The report also fails to note the fact that one in four Californians already receives electricity from local municipal utilities, not from monolithic monopoly power utilities like PG&E. And, notes the Marin Energy Authority’s preliminary response to the report, those municipal utilities “generally charge their ratepayers 20 percent
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report is the assumption that the business plan for Marin Clean Energy, which was formulated in 2008, “is outdated and lacks sufﬁcient detail, including current pro-forma data, updated market analysis, load projections, customer exit fees and the speciﬁed quantitative analysis.” The grand jury publishes a list of documents that it uses in analyzing an issue. A key document is missing from the list in this report. In a preliminary response to the report, the Marin Energy Authority board asserts that, contrary to the allegation in the report, the business plan “is an extremely detailed document, prepared in cooperation with energy industry experts.” The response continues by saying the business plan underwent two independent peer reviews, both of which found it to be comprehensive and containing “no fatal ﬂaws.” In addition, a draft version of the implementation plan for Marin Clean Energy “was made available to the grand jury as requested and provides an even higher level of speciﬁcity and detail, as it is more current.” That implementation plan was not included in the documents the grand jury perused for the report. The board of the Marin Energy Authority approved the implementation plan Dec. 3 and submitted it to the state public utilities commission Dec. 4. “The implementation plan,” states the response, “is, in effect, an update to the business plan.” That kind of omission, say clean energy proponents, calls the report into serious question. In addition, the report suggests
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less than the investor-owned utilities and are governed by elected boards.â€? Under the Marin Clean Energy program, customers who choose not to opt out would automatically purchase electricity generated from sources that are 25 percent greenhouse-gas-free. Customers who choose to pay a relatively small surcharge would purchase 100 percent clean energy. The clean-energy proposal will give current PG&E customers multiple opportunities to opt out of the green program and stick with PG&E, which will continue to transmit electricity to all customers. (Keep in mind that all energy is pooled. But think of the energy grid as a pond. The energy that customers pay for through Marin Clean Energy is generated from clean sources, which helps ďŹ ll the pond with clean energy, displacing dirty energy that would have been there had customers not signed up with Clean Energy.) PG&E currently provides about 15 percent clean energy to its customers and is under state mandate to increase that to 20 percent in 2010. But the utility already has ďŹ led for and received a waiver from the state because it will not meet that target until after the deadline. Marin Clean Energy would, out of the gate, supply its customers with a minimum of 25 percent clean energy and, notes Mainland, that the goal is to be 100 percent renewable, leapfrogging the PG&E state-mandated target. The grand jury suggests that the county and its cities seek to improve current clean energy programs rather than embark on Marin Clean Energy. But, says Weisz, those programs cost
taxpayer money that comes out of general funds. Ratepayers fund Marin Clean Energy. In addition, the grand juryâ€™s recommendation that the county should work with PG&E to create clean energy programs rather than launch local initiatives is belied by a new report. The UCLA Environmental Law Center and the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at the University of California this month released a report titled â€œIn Our Backyard: How to Increase Renewable Energy Production on Big Buildings and Other Local Spaces.â€? Although Marin may not have a plethora of big buildings, and the open space it does have may pose challenges for renewable energy production, the county still has ample opportunity to promote local clean energy production by local companies. The number of solar installers currently working in the county proves the possibilities. Not to mention other forms of production. A key ďŹ nding in the UC report: â€œDecentralized renewable energy generation represents the single most immediate and feasible means to produce renewable energy at a broad scale without reliance on long-distance transmission lines, some of which have yet to be built.â€? Thatâ€™s what sustainability and clean energy proponents in Marin have been saying for years. <
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