The enormity of the boondoggle that is the California bullet train project is settling in. The public and the previously cheerleading media are finally figuring out the extent of the myths and falsehoods that were used in 2008 to win the passage of its $9.95 billion in bond seed money from taxpayers. So when will a like realization settle in about another enormously hyped boondoggle that was sold with myths and falsehoods? I refer to AB 32, the 2006 law forcing a shift to cleaner but costlier sources of energy.
AB 32′s downside is finally being acknowledged by the media, or parts of it. Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle carried a lengthy front-page story in which state and utility officials fret over how much more energy will cost residents and businesses in coming years.
California’s increasing use of renewable power will come at a price, pushing up electricity bills across the state.
And while it’s impossible to tell how big the cost to consumers will be, some experts fear the total cost of renewable energy in California will be in the billions of dollars.“Some experts fear” this? Feel free to groan. Experts have seen a huge rate hike coming for years. Even know, five years and two months after the passage of AB 32, we’re still not seeing comprehensive reporting about the vast cost that regular Californians will bear because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s determination to be remembered as a Global Green Giant.
In coming weeks, I’ll focus on other AB 32 myths — that it is a job creator; that it was made necessary by the drying up of fossil fuels; that it was needed on national security grounds, and most ridiculously, that it would inspire the rest of the world to copy California. But for this post, my focus is on the absurd idea touted by Arnold, Fabian and all the politcal/media/venture capitalist/rent-seeking components of the Green Industrial Complex that AB 32 had no downside to regular Joes.
It’s long been obvious to insiders it would force sharply higher energy costs. Says who? Says the California Air Resources Board. It was two years ago that its researchers offered a grim prediction on where we were headed:
“AB 32 will cause California households to face higher prices both directly for electricity, natural gas, and gasoline, and indirectly as businesses pass costs for GHG reduction on to consumers,” their report concluded. Attention, journos: It said “will cause” — not “may cause.”
The report predicted clients of all big utilites would pay massively higher rates per kilowatt hour. The specific forecast for SDG&E’s customers in San Diego and Orange counties was a hike of 41 to 59 percent by 2020.
What? This is all news to you? You had no idea that this was in store? That’s because the state’s own horrifying forecast wasn’t considered news by almost all California’s media. I wrote about it on LLAFB in January 2010, but the main way Californians heard about the air board’s grim warning, if they did, was in the official ballot argument in favor of Prop. 23, the November 2010 ballot measure that would have suspended AB 32 until unemployment came down and stayed down. Remember, Prop. 23 proponents were ridiculed as ignorant alarmists by the same media that ignored the air board report. The green version of The Spike lives on.
It would be nice if the newly invigorated investigative reporting on the bullet train we’re finally seeing from the San Jose Mercury-News and the L.A. Times were also on display with AB 32. The bullet train is shaping up as the biggest public works boondoggle in U.S. history.
But AB 32 is even more of a long-term threat as it locks into place one more competitive economic disadvantage for California: much higher energy costs. As it is phased in over the next few years, Californians will slowly figure out to their horror what it means not just for their pocketbooks but for their employment prospects.
Do they give out reverse Pulitzers? If so, California’s media would have stacks of plaques for their coverage of both the bullet train and AB 32. We’ve been wronged — and in the case of AB 32, we’re still being wronged.
More on other AB 32 problems ignored by the media is TK.
Uh, no. The results of the Copenhagen climate summit last month were not encouraging.
Oh, well. Bring on the California-specific depression.