Published by Voice Magazine

The World Business Academy: Taking Responsibility for the Whole

When it comes to “thinking globally” and “acting locally,” Rinaldo Brutoco, founder of the World Business Academy, has been working for 30 years to lead a global and local conversation about corporate and business responsibility towards “the whole” of society—particularly the environment.

“During the Thomas Fire and after the mudslide, thousands of people were left without power for days when the electrical grid system was damaged,” noted Brutoco. “Relying on Southern California Edison’s outdated and vulnerable grid leaves the region vulnerable to outages during extreme weather events.”

Their first goal is to close the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The Safe Energy Project has been working in coalition to demobilize the last nuclear power reactor in California, owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric, located in San Luis Obispo County.

Next up, to replace nuclear and fossil fuels, the Academy is proposing SBR3: The Santa Barbara Microgrid. “We must produce energy locally and use it efficiently. Southern Santa Barbara County is at grave risk of extended blackout because of our antiquated energy system,” explained Brutoco. “SBR3 stands for Santa Barbara Reliable, Resilient, and 100 percent Renewable—to get there we need to develop a microgrid that can operate even in cases of emergency to keep the lights on.”

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Taking the plan statewide is the third prong of the plan. “Applying the promise of distributed energy production and use to the entire state of California, we can quickly and efficiently shift away from centralized energy production and toward a future where all communities make use of their rooftops and degraded land to create energy.” The Academy calls it The Clean Energy Moonshot. It’s a roadmap to achieve 100% renewable energy in California in ten years.

The Academy is no stranger to challenging the status quo for the betterment of the environment. In ongoing litigation against the State Lands Commission, the Academy is leading the effort to obtain PG&E’s consent to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by 2025 with a 100 percent green energy replacement, and establish the first-ever environmental review of the plant. The case seeks to protect the California Environmental Quality Act at a time when the Federal government is backing off all environmental enforcement. The Academy’s commitment to social and environmental justice also lead it and its allies to obtain the closure of the Ellwood Peaker Plant in Goleta by the California Public Utilities Commission and the rejection of the Puente Peaker plant in Oxnard by the Energy Commission.

The Academy, with its international reputation as a leading think tank, has been bringing technical and legal know-how to the local effort to create a clean energy future in Tri-County communities. The SBR3 program – Santa Barbara Reliable, Resilient, Renewable – is the Academy’s four-year-old initiative to update the community’s power infrastructure with a modern grid that reflects the environmental values of our region and is able to provide us energy when we need it most, especially in light of recent events.

February 20th at the Belmond El Encanto, the Academy, along with County Supervisor Das Williams, representatives from the Montecito Planning Commission, the Santa Barbara County Division of Energy & Sustainability, and the Clean Coalition highlighted the need to put resiliency at the center of Montecito rebuilding efforts. Special focus was given to a proposed renewable community microgrid for Montecito to provide energy stability and resiliency in the face of the increasingly unstable climate.

“Facilitating the conversation between local government, key stakeholders, local nonprofits, and community members about the future of our local energy, the Academy hopes to create a better, more resilient local grid and a community more prepared for the challenges that climate change will pose,” concluded Brutoco. “California’s regulatory agencies are finally realizing that a clean energy future begins now, not tomorrow, so now is the time to act.”

The World Business Academy is a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit devoted to elevating the consciousness of people in the business community and encouraging business leaders to use their power and influence to take greater responsibility for the communities and the environment their work touches, has advocated for projects based on this perspective that address critical issues such as climate change. The group has been an outspoken advocate for mediating the effects of the change and for sustainable energy use.