California to Be Home to $600 Million
Global Warming Research Center
Apr 10, 2008 - San Jose Mercury News
California will establish a high-profile,
$600 million research center to devise solutions for
global warming, the Public Utilities Commission decided
in a 5-0 vote Thursday.
The California Institute for Climate
Solutions will have a $60 million budget each year
for 10 years. The money will come from ratepayers
of the state's major utilities, including Pacific
Gas & Electric, which serves much of Northern California.
The new institute, which will seek matching
funds to expand its reach, will administer research
grants; work to transfer technologies to commercial
businesses; and develop a related workforce for these
Undecided is where the new institute
will be located, although it will be administered
by the University of California system. The Institute
will be run by a governing board with the PUC president
and the UC president as its co-chairs.
"Innovation -- technological and otherwise
-- is the key to alleviating the adverse consequences
of climate change," PUC President Michael Peevey said.
Jennifer Ward, spokeswoman for the University
of California's Office of the President, said the
institute "will play a critical role in helping California
combat and reduce the effects of climate change. It
can serve as an important resource for state policy
makers, the private sector, and the general public."
Peevey said it's wrong for ratepayers
alone to pay for the new institute.
"Broad-based taxpayer financing would
certainly be preferable," he said. "But we cannot
wait for the Legislature to allocate funds any more
than the U.S. should defer decisive action on climate
change until China and India take action."
A ratepayer's advocacy group, The Utility
Reform Network of San Francisco, says the $600 million
will go on electric bills that also might increase
30 percent in coming years to fund state-mandated
"By cramming all these well-meaning
proposals into electric bills, we may be creating
more problems than we're solving," said TURN Executive
Director Mark Toney. "With the economy in a downward
spiral, higher rates mean more and more Californians
will be unable to afford essentials like lighting,
heating or cooling their homes, and cooking."
While many headlines detail venture
investments into companies focusing on clean technologies,
there is much academic and government work on climate
change as well.
At Stanford, for instance, the Global
Climate and Energy Project just celebrated its fifth
birthday. Funded by corporations, including ExxonMobil
and Toyota, the project researches a variety of energy-related
In other PUC action Thursday, a 15-year,
150-megawatt contract between PG&E and enXco was approved.
The Shiloh II wind farm will be located in Solano
County, and is projected to go into operation by the
end of the year.
Contact Matt Nauman at email@example.com
or (408) 920-5701.
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