Two-Year Anniversary of Al Gore Climate Challenge Met with Local Clean Energy Activism

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Los Angeles Area Neighborhoods Aim for 100% Clean Electricity by 2018

Two years ago, former VP Al Gore called for America to produce 100% of our electricity from energy sources with zero carbon emissions - and to do so within 10 years, declaring "this goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans -- in every walk of life: our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and every citizen."

Mar Vista neighborhood advocates James Brennan and John Ayers were inspired by Al Gore’s clean energy challenge, and soon launched a local petition drive to build support for a neighborhood goal of 100% clean electricity by 2018. They also began organizing with other homeowners to negotiate a group discount on solar installations in their neighborhood. In 2009 the group began conducting a series of events and workshops and the GoSolar Mar Vista community solar program soon became the largest group solar installation in Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) history, with 33 solar installations and over 105kW of electricity generation.

The Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) voted last November to adopt a 100% clean electricity goal for the neighborhood. The MVCC Green Committee soon identified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Communities program as a key partnership opportunity toward achieving community-wide adoption of clean, renewable energy. The EPA’s requirement is simply for the community to purchase a minimum amount of green power through solar, wind, biomass or geothermal sources.

Working with the EPA and LADWP, Brennan and Ayers measured the neighborhood’s total electricity use and percentage of green power purchases. They found that 1.75% of the neighborhood’s electricity now comes from solar panels, and another 2.96% is purchased through the LADWP Green Power program. The combined 4.7% green power purchase is well above the 3% EPA green power purchasing requirement. The MVCC this week voted to partner with the EPA as a Green Power Community. All green power purchasing under the EPA program is voluntary.

Brennan and Ayers founded Open Neighborhoods in 2008 with a mission to connect and inform local neighborhoods with clean energy and open Internet access. The group has begun to expand its efforts beyond Mar Vista into surrounding neighborhoods including Venice, Santa Monica, Del Rey and Culver City. Petition drives are now underway in these neighborhoods to build support and awareness of the 100% clean electricity goal.

Green power community websites have been launched in Mar Vista (http://www.marvistagreenpower.org), Santa Monica (http://www.santamonicagreenpower.org) and Del Rey (http://www.delreygreenpower.org). Using a new service provided by EarthAid.net, residents in these communities can link up their utility accounts to compare savings use and earn rewards for energy savings. Culver City and Venice green power community websites will be launching soon.

Open Neighborhoods is currently evaluating proposals from leading solar installers for a second community solar program to begin this August. The four-month program will offer solar workshops and information sessions, free solar assessments – and a rigorous selection process ensuring the best group rate and qualified solar installer available for residential and commercial solar installations. For more information about the GoSolar 2010 community solar program visit http://www.openneighborhoods.net/gosolar.

About Open Neighborhoods
Open Neighborhoods was founded in 2008 to connect and inform local communities with neighborhood social networking services, neighborhood wireless (Wi-Fi networks), and community solar purchasing programs. The company launched its first social network and Wi-Fi network in Mar Vista, California last year and is expanding into Santa Monica, Venice and surrounding neighborhoods in the coming months.

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