An energy descent plan takes into account the declining production of easy oil, or peak oil and the increasing costs of oil production which will result. The descent plan calls for the production of local renewable energy to take over the demands that peak oil will not be able to fill in the near future.
The energy descent plan was moved forward last Thursday during a meeting at the La Veta Library among the facilitators for Transitions, Heloise and Walt Lynn; interested grass roots organizers; and the Community Energy Coordinator, Larry Blessman. Blessman’s office is located in Las Animas County along with other offices for the Southern Colorado Council of Governments (COG). Blessman voiced support for the efforts that Transitions is considering to build a more energy efficient community. He was also interested in efforts to localize food and energy production.
However, support seems to be absent at the state level for the present. A “Feed-in-tariff” (FIT) bill was killed in committee last week in Denver after extensive lobbying by Xcel Energy, according to a report in the Colorado Independent. The bill, if it had been passed, would have allowed “…individual property owners and businesses to generate power using small-scale solar, wind, biomass or hydro installations and sell that electricity back into the grid at a premium rate that’s absorbed by all ratepayers.
“FIT is meant to encourage investment in renewables and promote “grid parity” between renewables and fossil fuels.” This is a move that most folks involved in Transitions would have favored. FIT was opposed by Xcel Energy and the Colorado Rural Electric Association – representing most of state’s rural electric co-ops. Yet, development of local energy and energy self-sufficiency is an essential step towards the building of a strong local economy.
Building a local economy that will blunt the effects of rising food and energy costs is a Transitions project. Several ideas have been put forward along with a basic philosophy of economics that will “reward the community for what they want to have happen.”
Other towns and cities in Colorado, which have been designated as “Transition Towns” are also looking at designing a local currency that will help build local economies. Towns such as Manitou Springs have seen an effort by their Chamber of Commerce to print and promote the use of “Manitou Money.” The currency is being accepted by many of the local merchants in Manitou Springs and can be exchanged for real dollars as needed.
The La Veta Transitions group is building a plan that will allow the town to be certified as a Transition Town and networked with many such towns across the U.S. and Europe. The common thought at each location is to design resiliency into the community’s master plans so that the forces that are released by a changing world can be dealt with at the community level by the communities, each with an individual plan that works for them.