Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas comes early for PG&E

Christmas came early this year for California’s utility companies after they were awarded $62.7m last week in bonuses to compensate them for selling less electricity to customers. That now brings the total to $206,378,244 just for two years' worth of energy savings.

And who pays the bonuses? The customers.

The so-called energy efficiency shareholder bonus scheme is just one example of how the state’s utility regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, ties itself in knots trying to appease the big electricity suppliers and ends up with policy that has only a weak impact on emissions, and displeases the public - giving energy efficiency a bad name in the state.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

California Air Resources Board's pantomime of policy making

California regulators were patting themselves on the back last week, after adopting the state’s first cap and trade scheme. But do they really have much to celebrate from this pantomime of policy making? During a 10-hour public hearing, 200 members of the public each delivered 2 minutes of comment on the regulations.

As comedy performances go, the Californian Air Resources Board (Carb) won’t be winning an Emmy any time soon. But this style of open democracy to create historic legislation may end up making a joke of California’s climate policy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Clean tech California flexes muscle under Schwarzenegger but Michigan pumps ion after Granholm

Arnold Schwarzenegger is about to step down as governor and has vowed to continue his "green activism". Although Schwarzenegger is a Republican, any criticism of his push for climate change action in the state probably came from his own party, rather than the Democrats. At his last Governors' Global Climate Summit, he talked so much about flexing muscle against big oil special interests and used metaphors that normally belong in the gym I felt like I'd had a work out myself after his 30-odd minutes on the podium.

Californians will be sad to see him go, but only when they're not talking about the $25bn budget deficit he's left behind. But who will flex the climate muscle and take his place as "climate action hero" among America's governors?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Energy efficiency at home… where's the low hanging fruit in California?

Just to kick things off, here's a short query on why electrical goods do not carry energy ratings. I doubt this is just particular to California. In the EU, energy labels on white goods, cars and light bulbs have been mandatory for some years now but the system is not without its flaws. George Monbiot has written at length about the weaknesses in the European system.

But it does mean that companies can no longer manufacture without energy data for the consumer, and that has to be a good thing.

Is there really nothing comparable in California? When I asked the very nice assistant in my local Best Buy shop yesterday which was the more energy efficient heater between the oil and air (fan) room heaters, he said: "Well the advantage of the oil heater is that you can leave it on and go out of the house without worrying about it."