Greenhouse gas institute moving under the radar

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 22, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A publicly funded, world-class research institute that would develop answers to the threat posed by climate-changing greenhouse gases (GHG) is being crafted in the Legislature and is among the last-minute proposals expected to come before the Legislature in the closing days of this year's legislative session.  The plan goes beyond the original blueprint proposed by California's top utilities regulator, state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) President Michael Peevey.

The proposed California Institute for Climate Change (CICC) has flown largely under the radar.  The institute is the latest example of Californians being asked to pay for reducing the State's GHG emissions at the same time the Air Resources Board (ARB) is working to conclude economic modeling that would help determine the cost of implementing AB 32.  Proponents of the institute say it will lure scientific innovation to California and help promote the growing industry of developing green technologies.

In April, the PUC unanimously approved creating the institute, a brainchild of Peevey’s, which would dispense $60 million a year in research funds collected from major investor-owned utilities’ (IOUs) ratepayers. The money, about 12 to 20 cents extra per month on the average bill, would go to research into global warming, with grants approved by the CICC's governing board and staff.  Lawmakers were concerned that they had no role in creating the institute.
They are proposing a new plan, expected to be more expansive, and will draw its funding from a variety of funding sources, including utility rates for both the IOUs like Edison and PG&E, as well as municipal utilities in Los Angeles, Sacramento and elsewhere.  Language to create the institute will purportedly be placed in SB 1760 (Don Perata, Senate President pro Tempore, D-Oakland) later this week.  The governance of the Institute is supposed to be headed by a board that includes representatives of ARB, the California Energy Commission, the governor's office and the Senate and Assembly.  The changes, in part, reflect the desire by Senate Democrats to exercise greater public control over the Institute.  

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