California’s Greenhouse Gas Experiment

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 4:39 pm by Neal

Given the global warming hot air coming out of all three presidential candidates, we may all thank California for getting a head-start on trying to curb greenhouse gases. We’re sure Californians are oh-so-proud to have a wonderfully progressive “cap and trade” scheme that the inconvenient truthers are trying to foist on the rest of the country. However, now that they’re having to implement the policy, they’re starting to figure out that, in the end, this is just another tax hike on individuals.

And to the anti-capitalist leftists infesting the eco-radical movement, the news is worse. H. David Nahai, the chief of municipal power provider Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, had these comment on the evolving system:

Nahai recently accused the state commissions of promoting “a scheme to line the pockets of large corporations” and “shift billions of dollars away from our communities and our customers and into the pockets of for-profit utilities.”

Oh, the humanity!

From the LA Times’ article, Electricity industry wrangles over California’s greenhouse gas law:

Fighting global warming is the feel-good cause of the moment.

But in California, the self-congratulation that followed the 2006 passage of the nation’s first comprehensive law to curb emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases is fast turning to acrimony.

A ferocious behind-the-scenes brawl over how to regulate electricity plants, the biggest source of carbon dioxide after motor vehicles, has pitted Southern California’s public power generators against its for-profit utilities.

Why? Because some taxpayer-owned utilities, such as Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power, get close to half their electricity from the nation’s dirtiest energy source: coal.

And under the system envisioned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to implement the greenhouse gas law, utilities would probably be required to buy the right to pollute from the state.

Today, the state’s utilities and energy commissions are holding public workshops in San Francisco on proposals that could make high-carbon polluters such as the DWP, the nation’s biggest municipal utility, pay dearly. Investor-owned companies with cleaner nuclear and hydroelectric power could reap windfalls since they might pay proportionately less. And, overall, the money the state collects could be redistributed based on which utility sells the most electricity — and investor-owned ones such as Southern California Edison are atop that list.

A decision on how to control greenhouse gases from utilities will be made by the California Air Resources Board at the end of the year. But scenarios under consideration have Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and DWP chief H. David Nahai on a lobbying streak in Sacramento. Nahai recently accused the state commissions of promoting “a scheme to line the pockets of large corporations” and “shift billions of dollars away from our communities and our customers and into the pockets of for-profit utilities.”

Los Angeles’ customers, who thus far have benefited from some of the lowest rates in the state, could shell out $450 million to $700 million a year — money that the utility was planning to spend building wind and solar plants. Smaller coal-reliant cities, such as Anaheim, Burbank and Pasadena, also could pay high fees. Customers’ bills could soar under such a plan, municipal utility directors, including Nahai, warn.

California’s battle over the design of this “cap-and-trade” system, which would also allow industries to buy and sell pollution permits among themselves, has erupted as Congress appears likely to adopt a similar market-based system nationwide. Utilities around the country are jockeying for position on the penalty-versus-windfall balance sheet.

Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, which is charged with recommending global-warming rules for the electricity industry to the air board, dismisses Los Angeles’ complaints, saying its officials “are fighting with phantoms. . . . They’re doing a preemptive strike to carve themselves out” of a statewide program.

“There’s no free lunch,” Peevey warns. “We have to reduce CO2 by 174 million tons by 2020. But no one wants to face up to the cost. Everyone wants everyone else to pay.”

Well, of course. You’re jaw will fall off before you successfully explain to a liberal why “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Jeez, everybody knows that.

Hey California: be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.

Meanwhile, we’re watching and laughing.

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