Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 23, 2008
Fossil fuels are not only damaging to the environment, they’re running out. We need to find energy alternatives and fast. But who will be footing the bill for all this new research and development? Business? The Government?
It seems the correct answer is we the consumers.
According to a Reuters article: “California electricity and natural gas customers will be charged $600 million over the next 10 years to fund a green think tank, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted on Thursday.” The monthly surcharge will be used to fund the California Institute for Climate Solutions, which is part of the University of California. The measure was eventually approved 5-0, although some of the Cal PUC commissioners voiced lukewarm support. Said Commissioner John Bohn: “We are, in short, telling the ratepayers that as a condition of receiving essential utility services, delivered by monopoly enterprises under our jurisdiction, they are required to pay for research and commercialization of technologies that may never deliver results.”
Consumer groups voiced similar concerns. Executive Director of Toward Utility Rate Normalization (TURN), Mark Toney: “Electric bills should not become a blank check for all of the Cal PUC’s pet projects… consumers are already paying their fair share for renewable energy and conservation programs. Forcing them to pay more for an expensive academic exercise that may or may not provide benefits in the end is simply going too far.”
Although $600 mil sounds like a lot, extrapolated out over a ten-year period, the average consumer can expect to fork out only about 25 cents per month. While the individual won’t bear a huge personal financial burden, it seems only fair that businesses and the government match payments made by us the consumers.