By Franklin Ortega
This week I had the rare opportunity to sit in on a meeting of Renewable Taos in the Taos County Administration Building. This dedicated group of movers and shakers, on the verge of gaining 501(c)(3) non-profit designation, is determined to see Taos shift to 100% renewable energy.
The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) out of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The nonprofit aims to “create the political will for a stable climate” by working “to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.”CCL representatives Maria Rotunda, Heidi Brooks and Paul Biderman detailed the push to move the state and the country toward legislation that would impose a carbon tax. The CCL proposes placing a tax on fossil fuels, based on the CO2 content of those fuels. Revenue from that tax would be returned to the public as a monthly or annual payment to protect households from rising costs associated with the carbon tax.
Biderman explained CCL’s interest in meeting with Renewable Taos as an example of its foundational approach. By speaking to local leaders like Renewable Taos CCL’s strategy is to go grassroots, “then trickle up to the state level.” Biderman expressed interest in passing carbon tax legislation, “because I have three grandchildren, and I don’t want to see climate change compromise their lifestyle.”
The next agenda item touched on. Tri-State power company, its proposed rate hike and the limitations it imposes against renewable energy, such as solar power. Renewable Taos would like increase the current 5% cap of allowable renewable energy generation.
Among the most interesting agenda issues involved the recent purchase of the Taos Ski Valley. The new owner, billionaire Louis Bacon, has become the talk of the town. As Renewable Taos members see it, Bacon’s plans for the ski valley are in line with their mission.
Bacon, who made the Forbes 400- The Richest People in America list, is a self-made hedge fund billionaire, with a passion for the environment. Renewable Taos board member Bill Brown, who reported on a recent meeting with Bacon at Taos Ski Valley, seemed impressed with Bacon’s willingness to work with local environmental non-profits to create a sustainable environment.
They also mentioned plans surrounding the new national monument: Rio Grande del Norte, established on March 25, 2013 by President Obama. The 242,500 public land, between San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, will be managed by a newly-forming Taos non-profit, The Friends of The Rio Grande del Norte.
Renewable sewed up the meeting with a discussion of steps involved in securing its designation as a 501(c)(3). I’m astonished to see a small grassroots non-profit unafraid of tackling the big issues. To date they can’t to receive any grants, or non-taxable donations, but continue moving forward to become the voice of the Taos community, where issue of renewable sources are a concern.