Thursday, January 3, 2008

You think your electric bill is high now; soon it will be even higher

California residents are already paying for electricity at rates among the highest in the country; now Governor Schwarzenegger and the California legislature have sacrificed your utility budget on the alter of global warming. Perhaps your 100 watt bulb is being replaced with a CFL so you won’t be able to read your electric bill as clearly in the future.

Much of electric power in the country is produced from coal-fired power plants. Our global warming-disciple governor has decided, with other global warming fanatics, that coal is a big no-no so California utilities will not be able to buy electricity from sources that use coal to produce electric power, or invest in such ‘polluters’. The restriction applies not only to coal-fired power plants, it also applies to the purchase of electricity from power plants that use oil produced from coal, such as coal-to-oil conversion processes used to produce oil from the Canadian tar sands. Oil from Canadian tar sands amounts to about two million barrels of oil per day sent to the United States, most of which is used by power plants.

Many have said that the law would prevent California from meeting its global warming emissions reduction targets under another law, the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), for which enforcement begins in 2012. Since California’s utilities are now making long-term plans to purchase new energy that involve billions of dollars in investments over the next decade, it is clear that increased rates for consumers will also be part of the long-range plans.

"In many respects the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard Act will have a more immediate effect than California’s other global warming pollution reduction legislation," the Director of NRDC (Chang) said. "That’s because it’s affecting decisions being made right now and preventing utilities from locking in long-term contracts for ‘dirty’ power".

The law’s requirements are applicable to any power plants whether those plants are inside California’s borders or not. It prohibits additional long-term investment (of five years or longer) on behalf of California consumers in these facilities unless their emissions of global warming pollution are as low, or lower, than emissions from a clean and efficient natural gas power plant, which therefore excludes coal-fired power plants. The maximum emissions of a power plant allowed under the CEC and CPUC regulations are 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity.

According to the CEC, about 21 percent of electricity consumed in California comes from coal; a conventional coal-fired power plant emits about twice the so-called global warming pollution of a typical natural gas plant. California has only two very small coal plants within its borders and imports a lot of its power from coal plants in other western states. Clearly, the standard is aimed at coal-fired power stations operating outside California and exporting electricity to the state since California has no large-scale coal-fired plants.

The new regulations cover Pacific Gas & Electric Co., a unit of PG&E Corp., Edison International's Southern California Edison subsidiary, and the San Diego Gas & Electric unit of Sempra Energy.

Pedro Pizzarro, a senior vice president at Southern California Edison said "It's going to be hard for our customers and us to find incremental reductions just inside the electricity sector, or if we find them it will be expensive".

Manufacturers that use electric power have warned the law could put factories out of business because of the higher cost of electricity anticipated. It’s no surprise that the global warming law will add to the price of doing business in a state already known for its strict regulatory environment and business-unfriendly reputation.

State officials say the law was written to provide a broad framework, leaving the California Air Resources Board to sort out the critical details about how to achieve cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Mary Nichols, State Air Resources Board chairwoman said the state will be working through the challenges for years to come.

"It's more complicated than anything we've had to do before," she said.

I’m sure you’ll work through the ‘complications’ Mary, but we are the ones that are asked to pay for ‘saving the planet’.

1 comment:

Anne M Taylor said...

I loved your comment that we are being forced to get dimmer bulbs to perhaps prevent us from being able to read our electricity bills!

Take care,