Climate Action: A Limited Time Offer

I’d like to introduce you to a limited time offer! Act now, this is only available for a short time! How would you like to improve your community’s economy? Reinvest in millions in transportation, housing, and infrastructure? Lower your electrical bill and create new jobs? Decrease the risk of wildfires and increase your resilience to future environmental disasters? All you have to do is act on climate change!

COMM EK Blog Earth 2015 04Does that sound like it’s too good to be true? I get the same reaction when I walk into a business and tell them they can get rid of their old lights, save money on their electricity bill, and upgrade to LEDs—and that Pacific Gas and Electric Company will help cover some of that cost! A lot of people are skeptical at first; I have to convince people that yes, PG&E actually will help you buy better lights and reduce your electrical bill. Some business owners take more convincing than others and sometimes a project doesn’t work, either because of limited funds or too long of a payback.

There are some businesses I visit, however, that have an amazing opportunity that would result in thousands of dollars saved a year and their money paid back in just a few months (remember as well that LEDs can last over 15 years and will keep saving you money all that time). Despite this whopper of a deal sitting in their lap, they decide not to do the project for reasons I never fully understand, leaving me to reminisce with other SNEW Project Managers over beers about “the ones that got away”.

The thing these business owners might not realize is: if they decide not to do an upgrade, they’re still paying for it with higher electrical prices. If you have a potential project which will pay itself back in three months and you wait three months to do the project, you’ve already paid for it! I visited one customer (who shall remain nameless) a year after they had rejected a previous project. The project would have paid itself back within four months, so in effect they had already paid for the project three times over. Had they agreed to the project at the beginning, they would have had an extra $4,000 to jingle in their pocket. Needless to say, they upgraded their lights quickly after that.

This is the same principle for acting on climate change as well. The longer we wait, the more we lose out on, from creating new jobs in the clean energy field, to reducing our risk of wildfires. California’s Cap and Trade program has created a $1 billion dollar pot of money, expected to rise to $5 billion in the next few years. That’s near-Dr. Evil levels of money—and communities can gain access to those funds by creating greenhouse gas inventories and putting forward plans to reduce their carbon emissions. Jobs like mine, working to reduce carbon emissions or increase renewable energy, are popping up everywhere, and you don’t need tips to make a living with them. If the Sierra waits, we lose out on a huge opportunity to reinvest money into the communities we live in.

Thankfully, the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch program will be here for years to come. Can the same be said about opportunities to act on climate change? Why wait when we have a whopper of a deal sitting in our laps? Let’s get moving to help improve our economy and reap the benefits of climate action, because we don’t really have the option for this planet to be “the one that got away”.