comes out swinging in the San Francisco Chronice with a passionate defense of Prop 7
. I'll let you draw your own conclusions:
Mother Nature demands Californians pass Prop. 7
S. David Freeman
Monday, October 6, 2008
There is no longer a debate in California over whether we need to shift to renewable energy sources. Nor can anyone successfully say that Proposition 7's target of 50 percent renewable by 2025 is too ambitious. Al Gore says we need to do 100 percent by 2018.
Mother Nature is the one that will really call the shots, and the best experts say that the tipping point on global warming will be less than a decade away.
We need more renewable electricity not just for today's uses, but to power hybrid and all-electric cars. Prop. 7 can provide us the carbon-free domestic energy that will drive our nation's vehicles for less than $1 a gallon gasoline equivalent.
The lack of desired progress to date by the electric utility industry in California makes it clear that we need to raise the bar. Prop. 7 does just that in a realistic, well-thought-out manner.
I studied the text of Prop. 7 without any preconceived opinions. My considered judgment is that it clearly meshes with existing California law to achieve two basic and necessary goals.
Prop. 7 doubles the rate at which we shift from the fuels that poison our environment to renewable energy - from 1 percent per year to 2 percent per year.
It also streamlines and shortens the approval process for projects that don't pose serious threats to the environment, so the utilities will have better opportunities to achieve the necessary goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2025.
Prop. 7 strengthens the penalties on utilities for failing to meet the targets by removing the ceiling on penalties, and forbidding that the fine be paid by consumers.
The opponents contend in TV ads, paid for by the utilities, that small renewable producers below 30 megawatts would be excluded by Prop. 7. That is just plain wrong. Prop. 7 changes absolutely nothing about which size facility can qualify. Today, both large and small producers qualify for the renewable portfolio standard, a policy that requires a certain percentage of energy be produced from wind, solar, biomass or geothermal energy sources. Utilities must purchase a certain percentage of their power from these renewable producers. If Prop. 7 passes, the same producers, both large and small, would qualify for the standard. The opponents fail to distinguish between facilities that count toward meeting the standard without any size limitations, and plants of more than 30 megawatts that - for siting purposes only - will be approved by the state Energy Commission. The 30-megawatt distinction has nothing whatsoever to do with which facilities qualify for the standard.
Another complaint put forward by the opposition is that the energy commissioners are given authority to excuse the fine for non-compliance in any year if there has been a good faith effort to comply. Please note that the commission, not the utilities, must make the findings of good faith. I would have trouble defending a law that fined a utility for a failure that was in fact beyond their control.
The utilities that lobbied to defeat efforts by the California Legislature to increase the renewable standard don't dare to openly oppose the basic provisions of Prop. 7 that take serious action to avoid the dangers of global warming. Instead, the utilities are funding ads that attempt to poke holes in the language.
But this time the people get to vote, and they know that if the utilities really wanted to provide electricity produced from renewable sources, we would already have it.
Yes, we can reach 50 percent renewable by 2025 or sooner. Indeed, we must. Prop. 7 will help us get there.