News Column

Calif. Green Energy Shift Could Push Up Prices: Report

Dec. 3, 2012

Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News

Light bulb on green leaf

California's aggressive plans to transition to a clean-energy economy could expose consumers and state government to higher than necessary prices, according to a report released Monday by the Little Hoover Commission.

The Little Hoover Commission, a nonpartisan state oversight agency created in 1962, investigates state government operations. Monday's report largely focuses on California's renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which requires utilities to obtain a third of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Utilities like PG&E are well on their way to meeting that goal.

The report, called "Rewiring California: Integrating Agendas for Energy Reform," urges Gov. Jerry Brown to "bring greater clarity on the aggregated costs and consequences of the energy policies being implemented in California" and urged Brown to prioritize planning in a way that minimizes costs.

The 33 percent RPS legislation is just one piece of a larger suite of energy policies now underway, from the state's groundbreaking cap-and-trade program to the rapid expansion of rooftop solar systems to the construction of large, utility-scale solar thermal power plants in the desert. The Commission warned that California has adopted several policy initiatives, all being implemented simultaneously, without an overarching plan.

"The state has not produced a comprehensive assessment of the total cost of implementing this group of policies,

inhibiting consumers and businesses in their ability to plan for this new future," warns the report. "This sets the stage for a potential ratepayer revolt that could dampen support for environmental stewardship policies."

"Ultimately, the governor must take ownership and take the lead on bringing greater clarity on the costs and consequences of implementing California's ambitious energy policies," Little Hoover Commission Chairman Daniel Hancock said. "Without more careful calibration of these policies, Californians may wind up paying more than necessary for electricity and the state may unnecessarily degrade pristine habitat in its rush to implement its renewable energy goals."

To access the Little Hoover Commission report, go to www.lhc.ca.gov.



Source: (c)2012 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services