Thursday, July 31, 2008

Considering "Cap and Trade"

The big investor-owned utilities that have already started down the road toward broad renewable energy portfolios are lining up behind the "cap and trade" system being considered for implementation in California. Other utilities like the Los Angeles DWP? Not so much.

LADWP says that cap and trade would cost it $700 million a year in fees because it relies heavily on out of state coal-generated power. That same out of state coal-generated power, the utility is quick to point out, was what allowed LADWP to weather the storm during the energy crisis, even allowing it to sell off excess power.

The real issue is not whether certain utilities will get the short end of the stick-- that's more or less inevitable in any kind of paradigm shift of the magnitude being considered-- but how to prevent a "cap and trade" system from being exploited the way deregulation was.

According to an AP write-up on the subject:

"Other municipal utilities in California are concerned that a carbon-trading system would subject them to market manipulations similar to those experienced during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, which cost the state roughly $50 billion.

"If we get this one wrong, consumers are really going to have to hold their breath because it's not going to be pretty," said Scott Tomashefsky, regulatory affairs manager at the Northern California Power Agency, which represents 15 public utilities serving about 700,000 customers."

It's all going to come down to what kind of a marketplace gets designed for the buying and selling of carbon credits. One California firm, Carbon Tracing, Inc., appears to be out in front of the issue and has put out a pretty comprehensive white paper addressing the potential pitfalls and needs that must be addressed.

In its reconmmendations, Carbon Tracing states that we should "Allow private industry to develop, implement, and manage the underlying infrastructure for verification, certification, and rating of all carbon financial instruments..." with the caveat that "The SEC in cooperation with the CFTC shold be requested to participate in the development of potential frameworks necessary to avoid price manipulation."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PG&E's Kindler, Gentler Side

PG&E has contributed a quarter of a million dollars to a campaign to defeat Proposition 8 on the November ballot. You'd be hard pressed to find a business motiviation for the donation, as the "what's in it for me?" quotient on this one appears to be fairly low.

Proposition 8, which seeks to ban gay marriage in the State of California, is being supported largely by social conservatives, but PG&E, which is headquartered in San Francisco-- the cradle of progressive politics in California-- is lining up with the other side.

A PG&E spokesperson was quick to point out that this contribution was not made on the backs of ratepayers. Rather, it was drawn from "shareholder funded political contribution accounts."

The "No on 8" folks are thrilled. Not surpirsingly, the pro-Prop 8 folks were not happy about the donation and they offfered a stinging response that included all of the requisite buzz-words:

"As a heavily regulated monopoly in California, PG&E can make decisions such as this without regard to their customers or fear of boycott," [a spokesperson] said."

This is not the first time PG&E has acted on its social conscience. In the 1990's the company contributed to efforts opposing the curtailment of Affirmative Action and opposing a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Can't we all just get along?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sempra's Big Bet Gets Mixed Reviews

Any time you close a deal valued at three quarters of a billion dollars you're probably hoping to make a big splash in the industry. No such luck for Sempra, which just inked the deal to acquire Alabama natural gas storage and distribution company, Energy South, Inc.

Sempra will be forking over $510 million in cash and assuming $224 million in Energy South debt. Sempra shares closed down after the announcement.

According to the write-up in the Union Tribune:

"Moody's analyst A.J. Sabatelle said EnergySouth's storage facilities offered “strategic complementary benefits” to Sempra's growing natural gas operations.

On the other hand, Standard & Poor's analyst William Ferrara said EnergySouth “has a notably weaker business profile than Sempra's. Its growth strategy is almost entirely related to gas storage expansion."

EnergySouth is the majority owner of two major underground salt-dome storage facilities for natural gas near the Gulf Coast: Bay Storage Gas Co., which has an 11 billion-cubic-foot storage facility about 40 miles north of Mobile, Ala., and Mississippi Hub, which is developing a 30 billion-cubic-foot facility in Simpson County, Miss.

Sempra adding gas storage sites [San Diego Union Tribune]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Taking Shots at Prop 10

We've already said our piece about T. Boone Pickens and his passion project, but the San Jose Mercury News piles on today in its analysis of Proposition 10, the green energy ballot initiative being supported by Mr. Pickens.

The Merc acknowledges what it calls a "parochial snit" over San Jose being left out of Prop 10's plans for demonstration projects funded by the $5 billion the initiative seeks to borrow, and it raises the requisite conflict of interest objections to the "Pickens Plan." But the best point the editorial raises goes beyond Prop 10.

Why are we still offering incentives for hybrid cars that people are lining up to buy anyway? Doesn't it make more sense to stop giving consumers a break on things they already use, and challenge them to take even more aggressive conservation and clean energy measures in their personal lives by incentivizing new products and practices that the general public has not yet embraced?

The Merc notes:

"One-quarter of the bonds would go toward research, development and construction of solar, wind and other alternative sources of electricity. But $2.9 billion of the $5 billion in bonds - 58 percent - would be in rebates to owners of low-carbon emission vehicles, mainly those fueled by natural gas. Natural gas is at best a transitional fuel to run vehicles. Taxpayers would be paying the interest on bonds long after the cars that got rebates ended up in junkyards.

The rebates would include $2,000 for high mileage cars, like the Prius, even though buyers already are lining up to buy them, and up to $10,000 for natural-gas fueled cars and electric plug-in cars, assuming the car makers get enough of them out the door in time."

Even if you disagree with that logic, is now the time to take on billions of dollars in more state debt to fund practices that have become comonplace and are transitional anyway? If Prop 10 passes, 25 years from now we will still be paying for it and cars like the Prius will be as anachronistic as the 8-track tape is today.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The "Other" Gas Price Crisis

PG&E customers might want to start stocking up on candles and maybe even pick up a new sweater or two. PG&E-- which some customers probably think stands for "pummel, gouge, and eviscerate," announced that, due to rising natural gas prices, it predicts an aggregate possible rate hike of more than 15% over the next five months.

The problem stems from the rising cost of natural gas which is used to power the plants that make the electricity. Natural gas is also used to heat most homes so, get ready to pay more for heat, not just electricity.

This isn't solely a PG&E problem; Edison recently said that its rates could possibly jump 25%.

Activitsts who oppose the price hikes claim there is still plenty of cost-cutting that can be done by utilities in-house before cost increases get passed on to consumers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ethanol Goes Hollywood...

Ethanol, long the darling of Midwest farmers and inside the Beltway politicians, is coming to L.A.-- Los Angeles county, anyway. Yesterday, Los Angeles County approved the construction of L.A.'s first cellulosic ethanol plant, a $30 million, 3.2 million gallon per year facility that will make ethanol out of biowaste like wood chips and other green waste.

By situating the facility near the Lancaster landfill, the idea is to alleviate some of the waste going into the landfill and create more of the cleaner burning fuel additive.

Company officials at Bluefire Ethanol said they want to build two more of these plants in California, and as many as 20 nationwide over the next 7 years.

Not everyone is happy, though. As with any project of this magnitude, the NIMBY's are restless, and possibly for good reason.

A Stanford University study released last year concluded that ethanol actually makes air quality worse-- up to 50% worse when using the biofeedstock that the new Bluefire plant will rely upon. Industry has panned the study in a big way, but with the Stanford imprimatur, it is gettting its fair share of looks.

If local resistance to the project succeeds in sending it to the County Supervisors for a vote, the plant could be delayed or killed outright. Barring that outcome, Bluefire expects to begin construction this fall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

T. Boone Pickens Is A Rock Star

The apotheosis of T. Boone Pickens continues with a puff piece in the Los Angeles Times today.

Pickens, the lifelong Republican oil tycoon who is championing what he calls the "Pickens Plan" to promote alternative energy and reduce dependence on foreign oil, testified before Congress yesterday.

His plan is a mix of energy conservation and alternative energy generation. He doesn't oppose offshore oil drilling but dismisses it as an inadequate solution.

He seems to be in love with wind power, despite its many challenges. Cynics would argue that his interest might be driven by investments in wind power made by the hedge fund he controls-- investments that would pay out handsomely should the Pickens Plan be implemented.

To bask in the glow of T. Boone Pickens, check out:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Drill or Not To Drill...

The San Francisco Chronicle takes an in-depth look at offshore oil drilling and reiterates what many including, Arnold, have been saying: Yes, there's oil offshore, but even if we open it up today, it will be years before we see a drop of it.

According to the Chronicle:

"If the federal government opened California's coast to drilling tomorrow, the first exploratory wells probably wouldn't be drilled for at least six years, Medlock said. Bringing newly discovered oil fields into full production would take longer.

That means any new oil wouldn't arrive on the market until midway through the next decade, at the earliest. The process is slow enough that the Energy Information Administration, the statistics branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimated last year that opening the coasts to offshore drilling would have no significant impact on oil prices before 2030."

The pro-drilling crowd takes the not-altogether-unreasonable position that, given the long lead time, the prudent thing to do is to start the process now as a hedge against future energy needs, should our efforts to develop altenative energy resources fall short of expectations.

While estimates differ on what's actually out there in terms of supply, the general idea goes like this:

"The federal government estimates the nation's outer continental shelf might hold 85.9 billion barrels of crude, including 10.13 billion barrels off California. For comparison, the United States consumes about 7.56 billion barrels of oil per year. The nation's sea floor also could hold 419.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, equal to U.S. consumption for 14 1/2 years. But the federal estimates are just that - estimates. "

The only thing that is 100% certain about offshore drilling is that it will be completely politicized by both candidates in the upcoming presidential election, so it's not going away any time soon.

The lowdown on offshore oil reserves [San Francisco Chronicle]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Putting Manteca On The Map

Citing a sucesssful takeover of PG&E's distribution system a critical part of the city of Manteca's commercial renaissance, Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford and South San Joaquin Irrigation District officials dedicated the SSJID's new, 1 MW, $7.9 million solar farm on Friday.

According to the Manteca Bulletin:

"The 6,740 solar panels installed by SunTechnics effectively track the sun from the time it rises in the east over the range of Light and settles in the west. During that time, SSJID is sending excess power to the PG&E grid with its meters literally running backwards. Then at night -when demand is at its lowest - SSJID buys power from PG&E. But in the end, the power "sold" to PG&E nearly cancels out the power bought."

The solar array is the secon-largest "specific-use" solar solar farms in the state, and the Stockton Record reports that the farm will reduce electricity costs at the water treatment plant it serves are projected to come down by $400,000 annually.

Not content to stop there, the SSJID is now considering building wind power and a methane powered generation plant to make the facility completely independent of PG&E.

$$JID: Let the $un $hine [Manteca Bulletin}

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Side of Futures Trading

The A.P. is moving a story about the Imperial Irrigation District's disastrous natural gas trading positions. It is a soberting tale of what can go (really) wrong when a utility bets wrong in trying to hedge against future price increases.

According to the A.P., in 2005 after massive hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast, a trader working for the IID boutght $155 million worth of natural gas contracts, betting that prices would spike after the natural disasters on the Gulf Coast. Indeed, prices did spike, but only temporarily, and the IID lost, by one estimate, $51 million.

To put that in perspective, the A.P. notes:

"The higher prices were passed along to Imperial Irrigation's customers in this struggling agricultural area of around 15 percent unemployment, and their monthly electric bills climbed about $10 on average, said John Pierre Menvielle, president of the utility's elected board. The board also had to make $20 million in budget cuts this year that included putting off the replacement of utility poles."

After an investigation, no charges were brought against the trader which suggests dysfunctional internal controls at the utility were as much to blame as the individual trader.

To give you a rather bleak pictoral coda to this story, the commerical space that once housed the errant IID trading operation, is now occupied by a Chinese restaurant, next to a payday loan shop.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CAL ISO's Plan to Speed Up Grid Connections

CAL ISO is about to submit a plan to feds that changes the way it reviews applications to connect to the grid. Currently, producers say the process takes too long and that valuable supply is being kept off-line. There is a backlog of 360 applications right now.

CAL ISO proposes to review applications in "clusters" rather than individually and, as part of that operational change, it plans to raise the application fee from $10,000 to....

Wait for it....



The theory they offered in defense of this stratospheric raise is that it will weed out the good projects from the bad ones by discouraging marginal, less viable enterprises from applying.

Maybe this Swiftian logic can be applied to taxes in general. Can't you just see Don Perata or someone standing up and saying that "by raising taxes 25 times their current level, we hope to discourage lower income individuals from living."

Not surprisingly, CAL ISO's plan has not been met with universal approval.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

33,000 Solar Panels in 45 Days

Calling it the "largest solar panel installation in the world," over the next 45 days, SoCalEd will put up 33,000 solar panels on 150 commerical rooftops covering two square miles. It's on y'all!!!

The project will generate 2 million watts-- enough to power 1,300 homes.

In its press release, SCE touted the benefits of the massive undertaking:

"SCE sees numerous benefits to customers, the region and the state from its solar project. The program will provide a new generation source to areas where customer demand is rising. The solar modules will be connected directly to the nearest neighborhood circuit, eliminating the costly, time-consuming step of building new transmission lines to bring power to customers. The output of solar panels closely matches peak customer demand — lower in the morning and evening, higher in the afternoon.

SCE anticipates the project will create new jobs in Southern California in the solar industry. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of SCE’s project partners, is supporting the project though the expansion of its solar apprentice training program.

SCE’s massive solar project also is designed to supplement several California environmental programs, especially the Million Solar Roofs program that provides incentives to encourage Californians to install solar projects by 2017. The solar program supports the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as well as complementing California’s renewable portfolio standard, the goal that 20 percent of the state’s electricity be generated with renewable energy. "

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Battle Lines Being Drawn Over Offshore Drilling

With President Bush's decision yesterday to rescind the executive order banning offshore oil drilling, the debate in California is heating up. For days, Gov. Schwarzenegger has been vocally opposed to any new offshore drilling California, stating bluntly that commencing new operations now will have no immediate impact on the price of gasoline at the pump (which is currently falling in California).

Writing in today's California Progress Report Assembly Member Pedro Nava picks up the Governor's opposition and notes that, for more than a decade, we have been bringing more supply online and prices have still gone up:

"Despite having more than doubled the amount of producing oil wells over the last 15 years, gas prices have nearly quadrupled. Since 1994 the amount of wells drilled in U.S. Territory has increased from over 3,000 wells to nearly 9,000 wells. Meanwhile the average price of gas at the pump has risen from just over $1.00 to over $4.00."

(Nava makes no mention of increased demand possibly off-setting those supply increases.)

He also claims that drilling will have a negative derivative effect on the state's economy:

"Petroleum development on the outer continental shelf of the West Coast will put important segments of our state’s economy at risk. Recreation and tourism-related activities in California’s coastal counties represent more than $12.5 billion in revenues. California’s fishing and aquaculture industries are estimated to contribute an additional $400 million to the state’s economy. Why should we put valuable natural resources at risk for a miniscule benefit that wouldn’t materialize for more 20 years?"

Nava has introduced a Resolution expressing opposition to drilling, but he points out that Congress appears to be favorably inclined to backing the President's call for more drilling. Ultimately, though the State of California will be the final arbiter and it would certainly appear that there is firm resolve in Sacramento to hold the line against drilling.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is Arnold Jumping Ship?

Speaking on ABC News' This Week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said plainly that he would welcome the opportunity to be Barack Obama's energy czar should the Illinois Senator win the presidency.

Arnold, who can read the tea leaves with the best of them, was quick to point out that he "doesn't see this is as a political thing", which means it is 100% a "political thing."

He also said that he plans to travel extensively after his term in office expires, promoting green energy, and he defended Obama against the charge that he is a "flip-flopper." Given that Schwarzenegger himself endorsed McCain, that defense drips with irony.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hey, It's Only Money...

Rachel Gordon reports in today's San Francisco Chronicle that BART is entering into a 25 year contract with SunEdison to buy solar power for two of its maintenance yards and one passenger station. That a transit agency in San Francisco would go solar is not surprising. That it would willingly double its electric bill to do so is surprising-- even for a government operation in San Francisco.

According to the Chronicle:

"BART now pays an average of $95 per megawatt hour to run its trains, maintenance yards and stations, said Frank Schultz, who manages the transit agency's energy division.

Without offering a specific dollar amount, Schultz said the price of solar power will be nearly double that amount.

BART officials cite a public relations "bonus" as a mitigating factor.

Is this a government operation or what? You can't make this stuff up.

BART paying more in bet on solar power [San Francisco Chronicle]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Walking the Walk...

As the old saying goes, "Don't talk the talk, unless you can walk the walk." Well PG&E appears to have found a worthy adversary in its fight with the SSJID.

In the heat of battle, SSJID officials went on record saying that if they couldn't buy out PG&E, they would build their own system from the ground up. Now the District is backing up that tough talk.

It opted to power its water treatment facility near Woodward Reservoir itself, cutting out PG&E in the process. The solar array went online in April and so far is working as advertised.

With the new solar power array, SSJID's energy portfolio remains 100% green, with all power being generated by hyrdoelectric or solar.

SSJID solar farm takes equivalent of 202 cars off road [Manteca Bulletin]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Pro's & Con's of Offshore Drilling

In today's San Diego Union Tribune, Mike Lee takes an in-depth look at the Catch-22 that is offsore oil drilling.

The net-net is that, while there is some 18 billion barrels of capacity sitting offshore right now (and many argue that estimate is low because it relies on old data compiled with less sophisticated equipment than we use now)-- enough to supply the country for two and a half years at our current rate of consumption-- the EIA estimates that the new supply wouldn't affect the price of crude until 2030.

According to Lee:

"The impassioned debate masks a little-known reality: About two-thirds of the recoverable oil reserves on the Outer Continental Shelf in the lower 48 states already are accessible for development. "


"Nonetheless, additional offshore drilling could offer some benefits. Those include helping the United States lessen its dependence on foreign oil and reducing long-distance shipments that have led to major oil spills.

It also could limit ecological damage from drilling operations in foreign countries that have fewer environmental controls. "


According to Warner Chabot, Vice President for Campaign Strategies at the Ocean Conservancy in San Francisco, “Access to the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf (of Mexico) regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude-oil and natural-gas production or prices before 2030,” said an analysis last year by the Energy Information Administration, the official keeper of federal energy statistics.

Even oil industry representatives won't say that drilling would reduce pump prices. They said it takes five to 10 years to produce much oil in new areas.

There's the rub.

Offshore reserves beckoning anew [San Diego Union Tribune]

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monetizing Green

"Green fever" continues to pop up in the unlikeliest of places-- well, perhaps not so unlikely if you think about it. No longer a passion project for environmentalists and politicians, green energy is a cash cow for companies throughout the private sector.

The ethanol boondoggle has been well documented here and elsewhere. Companies have tripped over themselves to cash in on that government subsidy. An entire subset of the venture capital industry has gone green. Automobile manufacturers have been quick to embrace hybrids and other green technology. Now... the insurance industry has figured out how to get in the game.

Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. is targeting environmentally conscious homeowners with a new insurance product that would cover the cost of rebuilding a home to green building standards. The green coverage, however, is only being offered as an add-on to the company's top-tier homeowners insurance package. It would cost $25 a year to add the coverage for a home with a replacement cost valued at $500,000 or less.

Insurance companies typically don't do anything that isn't going to make them a pile of money so-- depending on your point of view-- this is either a great example of incentivizing consumers to "go green" or it is blatant corporate exploitation.

Regardless, look for more examples of companies going for the green by going green.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Big Picture

I just received a forwarded email of what appears to be a Wall Street analyst's report... the analyst's identifying information was redacted because it was not supposed to be for mass distribution, so I don't have a link, but I did cut and paste the relevant energy section:

As the U.S. endures an energy crisis and imports 60%+ of its energy needs, the House and Senate decided to take action: they overwhelmingly voted to allow OPEC to be sued in U.S. courts for running a cartel. The mind reels…

Over the last 30 years, U.S. elected officials blocked nuclear build-out and spent fuel storage construction, impeded construction of oil refineries, refrained from passing meaningful alternative energy legislation, imposed an import tax on cheaper Brazilian ethanol, prevented offshore drilling in Alaska, California and Florida, delayed for 30 years tighter "CAFE" auto fuel efficiency standards, blocked the construction of LNG ports (in the Oregon Democratic primary, Clinton claimed to be more anti-LNG than Obama), killed wind farms in their own backyards (and back bays), and neglected opportunities for public-private sector partnerships on energy R&D.

They got it wrong; Congress should sue itself instead. Instead of ineffectual and counterproductive OPEC lawsuits, look at other countries. Germany has reached 14% renewable electricity use (they're shooting for 27% by 2020, and Denmark is already at 40%).

The entire continental U.S. is much sunnier than Germany, yet Germany has 17 times the installed solar base per capita. Same goes for Japan, where "feed-in tariffs" (subsidies) have ended, and yet the solar business is thriving and competitive. The head of the U.S. government's Renewable Energy Lab said that the Federal Government is doing "embarrassingly few things" to foster renewable energy (a). Renewable energy research has fallen by 78% since 1978, and the Lab's budget is a paltry $200 million (I will not mention the cost of the Iraq War again. It's $1 trillion). This despite the fact that a handful of successful DOE R&D projects yielded benefits that exceeded the total cost of the entire energy R&D program (b). The "just rely on the private sector" solution isn't sufficient, particularly when intellectual property rights aren't long enough for many energy-related investments (Congress did get around, however, to passing the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act", which extended that particular copyright for 120 years after creation).

A National Task Force recommended in 2006 that the Federal government fund demonstration projects to provide proof of concept for carbon capture storage and other complex technologies (c), but it's not happening on any grand scale. Meanwhile, China signs oil and gas supply deals with Venezuela, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Gabon, Russia, Ecuador, Myanmar, Turkmenistan and Australia, and is not wasting much time applying Chinese anti-trust laws to OPEC. The world is changing, much faster than the ability of the U.S. legislature to comprehend it. The bill's misplaced sense of entitlement is matched only by its pandering delusion. On oil prices, they are likely approaching a breaking point of some kind later this year. Yes, the supply-demand equation is tight (U.S. reserves per well are half the levels they were a decade ago), and marginal costs are going up (more costly horizontal and directional drilling now account for 40% of wells drilled).

Even so, marginal costs are $70 a barrel, not $140, and OECD demand is being destroyed at a rapid clip. China uses more energy per unit of GDP than any country in the world, so they're not exempt from energy pressures either; food and transport account for 45% of their CPI.

I don't write 'em, I just pass 'em along...

Kaloogian: Declare Defeat and Call Off the Lawyers!

Former State Rep. and uber-Republican Howard Kaloogian has published an op-ed that excoriates California legislators and regulators and that gives a tip 'o the hat to the Supreme Court for its recent decision which basically exonerated energy producers from any wrongdoing in the California energy crisis.

Kaloogian argues that the Deregulation bill was fatally flawed and that regulators only made it worse by creating a system that was easily played to advantage by power producers. He now calls for a formal cease fire:

"The Supreme Court has sent a message. California citizens have the right to expect even better: Stop the war on energy producers. Declare victory and go home. Re-deploy California's private army of $700 an hour lawyers who have frittered away tens of millions of dollars in pursuit of this now hopeless legal endeavor."

In the fifth paragraph, Kaloogian admits to (as an Assemblyman) having voted for the bill he now pillories (a kind of John Kerry-esque, "I voted for it before I voted against it" mea culpa), which, when combined with his history of hardball politics, should add some amount of context to this piece.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

PG&E Not Afraid To Lobby; Will Money Talk in Public Power Fight?

The San Francisco Bay Guardian blog notes that PG&E has been one of the most active major utilites in the country when it comes to lobbying, and that a proposed charter amendment in San Francisco that calls for the formulation of a public power plan (PG&E opposes the amendment) likely will be met with the same lobbying ferocity that the utility unleashed on Yolo County in 2006. ($11 million in lobbying qualifies as ferocious, doesn't it?)

According to stats compiled from and reported by the Guardians's Amanda Witherell, PG&E has spent over $200,000 so far this year on local lobbying here in California, "mostly wining and dining California Public Utilities Commissioners, influencing election outcomes, and paying the salaries of their employees who sit on public boards..."

And, lest you think PG&E is a lobbying juggernaut in a league of its own, consider this: SoCalEd spends more on influence peddling, as does the lobbying cooperative Edison Electic Institute (of which PG&E is also a member.

So, as San Francisco gets ready to take up the public power question, it looks like there is no question that PG&E will write whatever check necessary to fight the measure.

PG&E lobbying doubletime [San Francisco Bay Guardian]

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sunrise Powerlink Spawns Solar Development

On the road today so no snide comments or cynical observations... just a point in the right direction towards today's Union Trib which has a big write-up on a new, massive solar farm that SDG&E wants to build in El Centro to support Sunrise Powerlink.

As with alll things Sunrise Powerlink, this too is controversial, as environmental activists are claimng the technology is unproven and the site will take to long to build.

Read all about it:

Massive solar plan is linked to SDG&E [San Diego Union Tribune]