Props 7 and 10: Dueling Alternative Energy Measures

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 9, 2008

By: Steve Shadley and Ben Adler


PROPOSITION 7: Renewable Energy Generation

Prop 7 would require California utilities -- public and private -- to get half of the power they sell from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025.  The initiative was drafted by a few environmental groups and renewable energy advocates.

Jim Gonzales is a former San Francisco city and county supervisor who’s with the “Vote Yes” campaign.
Gonzales: “California is the 16th-largest global warming pollution emitter.  So if we want to do things like save our sierra snowpack, protect our water resources, protect our endangered species, all of those things to save California and the planet, the first bold step is to vote yes on Proposition 7.”
Among other things, Prop 7 would give fast-track permit approval for construction of renewable energy plants in California and create an estimated 375,000 jobs.
Dave Freeman is a former chief executive is with Sacramento’s SMUD.  He likes Prop 7 because it would fine utilities that produce too much carbon pollution.
Freeman: “Here’s a proposition that will get us to 50 percent renewable by 2025.  And the beautiful thing about it is that it will require obedience each year.”
But not every utility agrees.  PG&E and Southern California Edison are opposed.  In Sacramento, the SMUD board of directors is against it as well.  SMUD board member Bill Slaton says there are other ways to reduce power plant emissions.
Slaton: “It may be much more cost effective for us to a better job of insulating homes to reduce our carbon output than certain elements of renewable energy.”
And there’s even division among environmental groups over Prop 7.   Jim Metropolis is a senior advocate with the California Sierra Club, which has been lobbying for cleaner fuels for a long time. 
Metropolis: “In fact, Proposition 7 seems to be a distraction as to how we can get renewable power generated in our efforts with the governor and the legislature.”
Critics of Prop 7 fear it would hike electricity rates and they estimate it would cost the state more than three-million dollars in additional administrative expenses.
Supporters say the cost to customers would be minimal.  Anyone who has a $100 electric bill would pay about $3 more each month if Prop 7 is approved. 
Voters will have the final say on November 4th.


PROPOSITION 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy

The other energy measure on the ballot is Proposition 10, which deals with, well ... 

(sound of cars driving by)
Cars.  And SUVs.  And even big rigs.  It’s a $5 billion bond, though it would cost a total of $10 billion once interest is factored in.  And it’d fund renewable energy research, cash rebates for alternative-fuel vehicles and more.  John Dunlap is a former California Air Resources Board chairman under Gov. Wilson and a Prop 10 supporter. 
Dunlap: “It provides incentives for consumers to be able to change over vehicles – light-duty, medium-duty, heavy-duty, to run on those cleaner fuels: natural gas, propane, electric, biodiesel, etc.” 
And by “incentives,” Dunlap means money.  Californians who purchase those alternative vehicles would get between $2,000 and $50,000. 
Dunlap: “It’s aimed at reducing California’s dependence on foreign oil and it’s going to help clear our air of cancer-causing and asthma-causing chemicals and create thousands of green technology jobs in the Golden State.” 
The measure also includes over a billion dollars for researching solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.  Dunlap says this initiative responds to climate change more quickly and more effectively than the status quo.

Dunlap: “Proposition 10 aligns completely with all the major environmental issues facing the state of California today.” 
And it’s supported by Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, former Republican Assembly leader George Plescia and former Democratic Assemblyman Fred Keeley, to name a few.
But there’s another major backer who’s become Target Number One for the measure’s opponents. 
Holober: “Proposition 10 is really a money grab by a Texas oil tycoon – his name is T. Boone Pickens – whose company exclusively wrote and paid for this ballot proposition to enrich themselves.” 
So says Richard Holober, with the Consumer Federation of California.  He says Pickens has poured millions into the Yes on 10 campaign. 
Holober: “They stand to make a fortune if this passes, but they say, oh, no, this isn’t about us making money.  This is about us cleaning the air.  Give me a break.  This is a business investment by that corporation.” 
And Holober points to newspaper editorials that call Prop 10 a “reprehensible scam” and a “boondoggle.” 
Holober: “Interstate trucking companies will be able to register their trucks, turn in their receipts, collect their $50,000 from us, the suckers, the taxpayers, and the next day drive that truck out of state.” 
Environmental groups, taxpayer groups, unions and the Chamber of Commerce also oppose the measure.  But none of those well-heeled critics have put their money where their mouth is yet – only the “Yes on 10” side is running TV ads.