PG&E’s Love Affair with Nuclear Absent from PR Campaign

PG&E’s Love Affair with Nuclear Absent from PR Campaign : Indybay

PG&E’s Love Affair with Nuclear Absent from PR Campaign
by David Jay
Thursday Mar 15th, 2007 4:28 PM This speech was read as public comment at the March 15, 2007 California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) hearing regarding PG&E’s $1.6 billion rate hike proposal. It criticized the fact that it pours millions into nuclear energy and not a dollar towards wind or solar energy, and further highlighted green alternatives to PG&E.

When PG&E raises our rates we are being asked not only to pay for our current energy needs, but to invest in the energy needs of the future. In an age of global climate crisis, where the systems which deliver us energy are increasingly also the systems which shape our politics, transform our planet and take us to war, it seems worthwhile to ask what sort of energy future our these increased rates will be building.

Don’t get too excited.

Our money will not be invested in green energy. That’s right, not a cent or this rate increase will go towards solar or wind. Despite a future of volatile fossil fuel markets and increasingly severe environmental consequences, renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar remain conspicuously absent from PG&Es agenda. Instead, we’re getting served a nice heaping pile of fossil fuels. Our money will go towards establishing long term contracts for Liquid Natural Gas. These contracts lock us in to an energy future which cannot be sustained, making the real, green alternatives that exist today more expensive by forcing us to pay for fossil fuels that we don’t want and don’t need.

But fossil fuels are only part of the picture. If this rate hike is anything, it is a long, drawn out love letter to nuclear energy. To many of us here in San Francisco this may be surprising, PG&E’s recent citywide ad campaign has mentioned nothing about the passionate love affair with nuclear energy that we are about to bankroll. That’s probably because 55% of Californians think that nuclear energy is too dangerous, and because we still have the pesky problem of making nuclear waste one of the first artifacts in human history to remain undisturbed for 10,000 years. Don’t be fooled, PG&E’s love for nuclear is still going strong:

· Let’s start with the $134.4 million going to nuclear power generation- by far the largest chunk of the generation pie

· That doesn’t include the $35 million going to refuel the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, or

· The $16.8 million to investigate keeping the reactor going after its license expires in 2025.

· And last but not least: three quarters of a million to join the Nuclear Energy Institute in lobbying for nuclear power.

Thankfully, we have an alternative.

Community Choice Energy is a program well on it’s way to implementation in City Hall. With Community Choice, green energy providers would be given the chance to meet or beat PG&E’s prices, providing a real, immediate alternative to PG&E’s vision of a nuclear and fossil fueled energy future. Under Community Choice, the city of San Francisco would start a rapid shift to 50% renewable energy.

With these rate hikes, the people of San Francisco are paying to make that shift more expensive and more difficult. PG&E is working to prevent communities from choosing to aggregate – and this GRC forces us to pay for this shady practice that opposed our own public interest. We call on the CPUC to reverse its Opinion authorizing PG&E to:

1) charge ratepayers to pay ($4.35 million) for its Customer Retention & Economic Development program;

2) to reconsider all funding related to long-term investments in nuclear and gas infrastructure in relation to the state-wide movement towards Community Choice;

3) and to revoke and audit all money given to PG&E’s lobbying-related activities.

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