21st Century Salon: Years of Living Dangerously

Participants discuss energy

On Sunday, July 23rd, 2017, The Red House Community hosted what we hope is the first of many "21st Century Salons." We watched an episode of National Geographic Television's Years of Living Dangerously Season 2, Epsiode 1, "Into the Light". The episode contrasts the challenges facing India with its incipient demands for electric power and the flexibility they have with an undeveloped power grid, and political corruption and large power utilities' influence in the United States preventing reasonable adoption of alternative energy including solar. We discussed the complexities of energy policy including why energy concerns lobby so hard against alternative energy instead of just getting in on the potential profits. An article that was introduced in the discussion was "5 Reasons Utilities Are Hating on their Solar-Producing Customers" from Ars Tecnica. In Minnesota, the article notes that the Minnesota State legislature requires that Xcel Energy include the value of solar on the energy grid in its valuations. The result of this requirement has revealed to Xcel that they get a net benefit from solar gardens and individual solar energy installations. We also had a lively discussion of the challenges of triple bottom line accounting. A category of accounting with promise, but one that is very hard to promote adoption of a GAAP-like standard because of the difficulty in measuring damage to the "commons".