By Deena Shanker, RevMode:

The story is getting old: Elected officials propose widely supported legislation to promote green energy, and the big utilities do their best to shut the programs down. We’ve seen it in Michigan, and now it’s come to California.

Commonly regarded as a leader in green legislation, California has long been a pioneer in environmentally friendly policies. In keeping with that record, state Sen. Lois Wolk (D) put forward Senate Bill 843, which would allow residents to participate in “distributed energy,” a framework through which, for example, solar panels on a parking garage provide electricity to a nearby apartment building. Under the proposed bill – which had broad support from the Department of Defense, businesses, schools and nonprofits – customers of the big three California investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), could “subscribe” to energy installations within their territories. No state funds would be used, but the program would create up to 2 GW of renewable energy, 12,000 jobs, $230 million in state sales tax, and $7.5 billion of economic activity. Sounds like a giant win for everyone right?

It would have been, if the utility triumvirate hadn’t stepped in and squashed it. Big Energy’s influence goes far – all the way into the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce. Sen. Wolk put it this way: “PG&E and Southern California Edison control the committee … the coalition of support behind this measure was simply no match for the high paid lobbyists and the campaign contributions of these monopoly corporations… Read more


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