San Fransisco – Earlier this year, San Fransisco passed a new law which will require all newly constructed buildings within city limits to install functional solar panels on rooftops. It is an unprecedented law, first of its kind in the nation and will officially go into effect in 2017. The mandate applies to all buildings within city limits under 10 stories in height, both commercial and residential alike.
According to representative Scott Wiener, the effort comes in conjunction with the cities long term “goal of meeting 100% of the City’s electricity demand with renewable energy”. If successful, the initiative would make San Fransisco the fifth city in the United States to run 100% on renewable energy – joining Burlington, Aspen, Kodiak and Greensburg.
The ordinance was passed with 100% approval by the city’s Board of Supervisors and serves as an extension to a much broader, state wide law passed in 2013 requiring all new buildings in California to designate at least 15% of rooftops to include solar panels.
It might seem counter intuitive as a Libertarian, to say that I support a broad reaching government mandate on private businesses and citizens, but here is why I agree with what the state of California and San Fransisco are attempting to do here.
A few years back I represented a land owner in the pursuit of opening a wind farm in a small town in New Hampshire. Believe it or not, when the town was presented with a vote on whether to allow a wind farm or deny it, the towns people overwhelmingly voted it down and this is not an isolated incident. You see, citizens think wind farms are too much of an eye sore, make too much noise and conspiracy people claim adverse health effects living next to them – so on and so forth.
This is just one small example illustrating why the industry has not grown and why renewable energy/green energy programs have failed to ultimately advance in America. Green energy is not being held back by corrupts politicians, big business or big oil like many believe, but rather by the citizens themselves.
It costs more money to install solar panels your roof so people don’t bother to do so. Wind farms are an eye soar and noisy so communities don’t want to see them built. Electric cars don’t drive fast enough or far enough so the vast majority of Americans continue to buy gas powered vehicles – so on and so forth. I remember watching a late night show the other week, the comedian jokes “soon the price of a gallon of water will cost more than a gallon of gas” and the crowd erupted in cheer and applause. I joked to myself, people sure do love their fossil fuels!
The truth of that matter, whether we like it or not, is that if we are ever going to progress this nation forward and end our dependency on foreign nations and fossil fuels, then the government is going to have to step forward and pass more measures just like California has done. As the free market continues to show us, society in general chooses not to invest in alternative forms of energy.
Though Libertarians will defend the free market system until their dying breath, at least when it comes to green and renewable energy, we may be getting it wrong. It may very well be that the only way to advance our nation forward, towards a better future for everyone, is to mandate these types of programs upon society.
This article (Finding Common Ground Within ‘Opposing Ideologies’, A Libertarians Take on Mandating Green Energy) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4