What is Solar House?
Some of the most provocative testimony came from William Winpisinger, the President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:
"We have a tremendous opportunity to dovetail the development of the new energy sources such as solar, cogeneration, biomass, small hydro, and wind with a national manpower policy and full employment program."
"We must be wary, however. The giant energy companies, already vertically and horizontally integrated, are casting covetous eyes upon the alternatives, particularly solar, and I guess staking out a claim on buying the sun. I don’t think we can permit that to happen. Of all sources, solar power must be the people’s power."
"It remains for public spirited and progressive citizens to remind the nation’s policy makers and the public, that the sun and solar energy belong to the people, not the energy companies; that the waters of the ocean and rivers belong to the people, not the monopolies; that the children of the ghettos have as much claim to ownership of pubic lands, oil shale and offshore oil deposits, as do a few private investors."
The next month, in April 1978, Winpisinger led the founding conference of the Citizen-Labor Energy Coalition (CLEC), with Heather Booth. CLEC promoted energy-efficiency and solar jobs, based on the larger belief that "the energy crisis ... pitted the well-being of workers and consumers against corporate power and profits" (Andrew Battista, "Labor and Liberalism: The Citizen Labor Energy Coalition, " Labor History, 1999). CLEC gained a bit of political power in the early 1980s. For a critique, see the 1984 Heritage Foundation report: "CLEC: Hidden Agenda, Hidden Danger" (pdf). CLEC also gets mentioned in pieces such as "Obama’s Radical Past."
Winpisinger was known as "Wimpy." When he died in 1997 the New York Times said he called himself a "seat-of-the-pants socialist."