Rep. Mike Thompson urges public to use Inflation Reduction Act incentives to take climate action

The climate crisis is “the No. 1 issue that we face as a people today,” Rep. Mike Thompson said.|

In an event that served to tout both the federal Inflation Reduction Act and Sonoma Clean Power’s Advanced Energy Center, Rep. Mike Thompson took to the rostrum Tuesday to urge the public to take the opportunities at hand to heart.

The climate crisis is “the No. 1 issue that we face as a people today,” Thompson said. He added that provisions in the congressional act approved in August make available real, accessible clean energy solutions for consumers, in addition to private investors and public entities.

The landmark bill includes $369 billion to lower carbon emissions and fight climate, including tax incentives that lower financial barriers to electric vehicles, rooftop solar panels, geothermal heating, energy efficient renovations, solar storage batteries and the like — much of which can be researched and purchased through the Advanced Energy Center opened on Fourth Street last year by Sonoma Clean Power.

Developed with a $9.8 million grant from the California Energy Commission, the center offers demonstrations and purchasing information on a host of low-carbon technologies, appliances and tools — everything from induction cooking ranges to all-electric chain saws, high-efficiency heat pumps and electric vehicle charging devices.

“This is an amazing spot, where you can walk in the door and you can see firsthand all the different products that you have access to that will actually help us deal with the climate crisis in addition to lowering your energy costs and improving your life,” Thompson said. “And everything is here, under one roof, and you can get the advice that you need and see firsthand what these things are.”

“The (Inflation Reduction Act) bill itself provides tax incentives for you to be able to purchase everything from energy efficient toasters to rooftop solar, and it’s going to save consumers money, and its going to save our planet,” he said.

Thompson, D-St. Helena, claimed credit for most of the clean energy provisions in the 775-page act. Most come from the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now, or GREEN Act, he introduced last year.

Ten other speakers representing local governments, organizations and industries with a stake in the bill and in the future of the planet attended the event.

They included Albert Straus, founder and chief executive officer of Straus Family Creamery, whose innovations have reduced greenhouse gas emissions throughout his and his suppliers’ operations with the goal that his farm will be carbon neutral by the end of next year and all suppliers will reach that goal by 2030.

His efforts include adding a particular kind of red seaweed to the cows’ diet to reduce the methane they emit when they belch and pass gas by up to 95%, and powering the farm with electricity produced by capturing methane biogas from their manure.

These and other measures are being replicated around the world, Straus said. “I think that collaboration and encouragement by government is essential to making these models successful,” he said.

Lisa Wittke Shaffner, chief executive officer of the North Coast Builders Exchange, said work force development programs through the exchange were aimed especially at ensuring home and building renovations featured the latest in all-electric and energy efficient technology.

“There is a lot of really great workforce development programs in Sonoma County. … The challenge for me is let’s see how good we partner and make sure every one of these dollars is used effectively,” she said.

Sonoma Academy student Leslie Perez, 16, was one of two youth advocates with Schools for Climate Action who spoke.

She cited funding in the bill that would advance climate justice through programs to fight air pollution at schools in disadvantaged areas, develop tree canopies in urban centers at risk of becoming heat islands and other projects addressing the specific needs of individual neighborhoods that bear the brunt of climate change.

“These projects will mitigate health risks for climate events such as heat waves and forest fires, and they support our farmworkers, enhance climate resilience and increase diversity in leadership,” Perez said.

“The Inflation Reduction Act has put (us) on a path forward toward deploying clean energy solutions with equity in mind, leaving me hopeful that a prosperous future, one that we all deserve, is within reach.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan (she/her) at 707-521-5249 or On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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