Major California Utilities Rejecting Prop 23

(Photo: Craig Miller)

While some oil & gas companies are behind it, none of California’s three major electric utilities appear to support Proposition 23, the ballot measure to upend the state’s comprehensive climate law, known as AB 32.

The growing list is a Who’s Who of the state’s electrical grid:

This week, Sempra Energy made it’s declaration against the measure, completing a sweep of the big-three utilities. Sempra is the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Co., Sempra Generation, Sempra Pipelines & Storage and Sempra LNG. A Sempra spokeswoman told Climate Watch that the energy giant is against 23 because it’s for AB 32.  “AB 32 plays a critical role in helping California develop a low-carbon economy,” she said, and added that Sempra is “heavily invested” in clean technologies, like “smart meters” and the infrastructure designed to support mass adoption of electric vehicles in the next few years.

In July, Pacific Gas and Electric Company came out against Prop 23. In a statement, the company said:

“Since actively supporting the passage of AB 32, PG&E has worked with the California Air Resources Board, California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission and other stakeholders to make AB 32 a success and a model for other jurisdictions to follow…Contrary to this responsible approach, Proposition 23 would suspend the law indefinitely, despite the critical need to combat climate change at the state, national and global level.”

Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison, is officially neutral, though the company’s statement seems to indicate no affection for AB 32:

“Edison International believes carbon emissions cannot be meaningfully dealt with on a regional or state-by-state basis…The company believes the best solution to the greenhouse gas emission problem is comprehensive national legislation that has the same rules for all carbon emitters, regardless of the state in which they are located. That is why Edison International is actively working with Congress to ensure that greenhouse gas regulation is accomplished in the most practical manner possible and protects consumers to the greatest degree. Edison International supports passage of federal legislation, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.”

That legislation stalled in the US Senate earlier this year.

The role of utilities in the political debate over California’s pushed to reduce its carbon emissions came up in my conversation this week with Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the Yes on 23 campaign. You can hear an excerpt from that using the player, below:

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In short, Mangels charges that the utilities’ equanimity regarding 23 is related to their push to pass on the costs of AB 32 to their customers, which they tried with something called Resolution G-3447:

“Resolution G-3447. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) seeks to modify its gas and electric regulatory accounts to recover from its core and noncore gas and electric customers a portion of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Assembly Bill (AB) 32 Cost of Implementation Fee (AB 32 Fee) paid to CARB.”

“San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) seeks to revise its regulatory accounts to record the costs associated with the CARB AB 32 Fee and to recover these costs in customer gas transportation and electric commodity rates.”

“Southern California Edison Company (SCE) seeks to modify its regulatory accounts to record and recover AB 32 Fees paid to CARB.”

“Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) seeks to modify its Core Fixed Cost Account (CFCA) and Noncore Fixed Cost Account (NFCA) to record and recover AB 32 Fees paid to CARB.”

Well, yes, they tried.  Staffers at the California Public Utilities Commission, however, recommended denial “without prejudice.” And at the CPUC’s meeting in June, that’s what happened.

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