For the last 18 years, California regulators have shaped energy policy largely based on fear. They wanted to avoid repeating the disastrous experience that followed the deregulation of the energy market, which left the state vulnerable to manipulation by the energy traders and caused a power crisis that led to soaring electricity prices and blackouts. In response, they approved new power plants — more than the state could even use. They expanded the network of power lines with billions of dollars. They developed a system of trading electricity throughout the West.
Archive for date: April 27th, 2018
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Many of my Central Valley legislative colleagues are furious that the staff at Governor Jerry Brown’s Water Commission have rigged the system so the recently announced proposed funding for Temperance Flat Reservoir is just that – flat. It’s not surprising that environmentally-oriented staff at the California Water Commission (and other state agencies such as the State Water Resources Control Board or the multitude of regional water boards) would come down in favor of fish over people.
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is vital to water supplies for 25 million people and 4 million acres of farmland. It is linked to the Pacific Ocean via San Francisco Bay, which makes this water supply uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise. Yet understanding sea level rise in the Delta is complicated. The largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, it consists of some 70 islands and more than 1,000 miles of levees. It is also fed by California’s two largest rivers, which drain the Sierra Nevada range.
Need a financial incentive to rip out your water-sucking lawn in favor of something a little more drought friendly? Here it is: The Metropolitan Water District is bringing back landscape rebates, starting in July: The district will offer a rebate of $1 per square foot of turf removal. And, depending upon where you live, you might get an additional incentive on top of that from participating member agencies.
Leaders of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California recently had a historic choice to make regarding our largest imported supply from Northern California via the State Water Project. We could either provide the funds necessary to ensure that the full modernization project known as California WaterFix could move forward. Or we could fund a fraction of it and hope the funding and project would somehow materialize. We also could delay and debate some more.
A fundamental fact has been lost in the discussion of Metropolitan Water District’s recent decision to underwrite most of the cost of the California WaterFix: MWD knowingly overpaid by billions of dollars with no certainty of return on its big gamble. The agency’s own documents clearly show that MWD won’t get any more water for spending $10.8 billion on two giant water-conveyance tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta than it would for spending $5.2 billion on a single tunnel.