The “locavore” movement is big, especially in California. With the bounty of food found locally in the Bay Area, living off the land – and sea – is not only possible, but also a delicious exercise. But there’s another, less obvious, revolution brewing here in the Bay Area: the “locavolt” movement. In response to high gasoline and natural gas prices, global warming and an increasingly unstable, scary world, residents more than ever are looking to generate power right in their own homes and neighborhoods with free energy from nature.

Within the next year or so, the Bay Area may bolster its locavolt credentials with a California program that allows local governments to choose power supplies for their constituents. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Marin County are all investigating a plan that would allow them to stay with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for billing, distribution and repair service, but allow local elected officials to choose more locally produced green power. In Marin County, for example, the long-term goal is 100 percent renewable energy.

Technology advances in computers, telecommunications, generators, inverters and even cars are all providing locavolts – both newbies and veterans – more tools to harness renewable energy and lead a fairly normal life.

Before long, plug-in hybrid cars in California will be able to serve as mini power generators for homes and store renewable energy from solar photovoltaic systems or small wind turbines. Plug-in hybrids also may help balance out a smarter electricity grid capable of easily sending power back and forth between generators and consumers, much like we send and receive e-mails on the Internet today.

There are many factions of locavolts. Boulder, Colo., and New York City represent the urban high-tech crowd, as does Silicon Valley. At the other extreme are folks in rural areas installing small wind turbines (not the giant machines in wind farms, but the small ones).

What about T. Boone Pickens and his massive $4 billion investment in wind power? Is he a locavolt, too? Purists would say no, but if one takes a broad national perspective, one could argue that giant wind farms sporting machines over 300 feet tall is still promoting home-grown energy, albeit Texas-style.

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