Kermit the Frog had it wrong.
It’s not “it isn’t easy being green.”
It’s more like “it is expensive to be green.”
Anyone following the corporate follies of PG&E via monthly power bills would agree.
Collapsed into PG&E electricity rates — consistently among the highest in the nation — is the cost of 40 percent of its electricity generation portfolio being renewable as defined by the State of California.
That covers biomass, wind, solar, and small hydro.
Now for the shocker.
According to a March 20, 2023 corporate press release, a whopping 49 percent of the power that PG&E delivers to its customers comes from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
Why that is shocking is this: In all debates about the future of Diablo Canyon it is repeatedly pointed out it represents 9.6 percent of all of California’s electricity production.
That is true.
But as a customer of PG&E that siphons money out of your bank count at a level that makes a Tyson vacuum seem like it has no suction, you are relying on that entire 9.6 percent of the state’s nuclear power generation to provide 49 percent of the power that you use.
While you might be having a coronary about the outcome of today’s scheduled California Public Utilities Commission vote on whether to grant PG&E a 26 percent rate hike — $56 a month for a typical customer — to bury power lines to reduce their wildfire liability exposure, that is not what can kill you.
It’s Diablo Canyon.
The green lobby doesn’t like Diablo even though 100 percent of its power is carbon free.
It wants it replaced with wind and solar which is getting more expensive with every passing day to put in place.
Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t a stupid man.
That’s because Diablo was scheduled to go off line in 2024 and the utility and other generators couldn’t possibly get enough solar and wind power to replace that generated via nuclear reactors by then, the governor came up with a plan to extend the life of the reactors to 2030.
If Diablo is not given additional life, Newsom astutely projected power reliability in California — the world’s sixth largest economy — would be relegated to Third World status.
And — to make things worse — emergency generator burning diesel would be kicked on routinely to make sure medical centers and other critical infrastructure has electricity.
That would be as good for greenhouse gas as the governor ordering Cal Fire to deliberately burn a million or so acres of forestland a year.
It would require $1.1 billion in public financing to extend the life of Diablo.
The cost clearly would be passed on to PG&E customers.
Given the alternative of not having electricity or PG&E being forced to buy supplies on the expensive spot market, extending the life of Diablo is downright frugal.
Even Greta Thunberg who opposes new nuclear power plants, sees the folly of taking existing nuclear power plants off line if there isn’t enough renewables in place to replace the electricity generation.
That’s because no government on the planet is going to torpedo their economy or trigger widespread political upheaval by not bridging a shortfall in renewables with the only quick fix there is — carbon-based power whether it is diesel, natural gas or even coal.
Greenies fighting the Diablo extension don’t care.
They point to safety considerations.
They claim PG&E will use the extension to get another extension.
That’s not likely to happen when those up in Sacramento huff green.
They claim it’s not needed because the nuclear power can be replaced by green power by the end of 2024.
Clearly green huffing can kill brain cells just like huffing glue.
The is no way on God’s green earth that PG&E is going to be able to replace 49 percent of the power they deliver on any given day from Diablo with wind and solar power within 13 months.
The green resistance is not the only wrench being tossed into Newsom’s plan that — regardless of one’s political leanings — is clearly a logic move.
Financing $1.1 billion in public funds at one point will require federal approval.
PG&E poses a problem.
Federal law basically prohibits the federal government from entering into contracts with federal felony convictions.
Yes, the 84 manslaughter felonies PG&E copped to after it burned to death 84 of its customers five years ago in Paradise are state felonies.
But before PG&E killed off customers in Butte County, they killed off 8 customers including a CPUC staff member in 2010 when their natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno.
The blast that incinerated an entire Bay Area neighborhood resulted in a number of federal felony convictions with PG&E.
In retrospect, the greenies may have a point.
Why would anyone trust a corporate culture that gave us Paradise and its 15,000 plus homes destroyed due to aging electricity equipment and San Bruno with its three dozen homes destroyed via aging natural gas lines operated beyond capacity to not end up doing the same thing with an “aging” nuclear power.
All of this is lining up to stone ratepayers to their financial death.
Not only are we going to pay the price to expand electricity generation to replace oil refineries but we are also going to pay to replace existing power sources that meet current demand levels at the same time.
None of this, of course, will put PG&E’s profitability at risk.
The CPUC will make sure PG&E makes 11 percent above and beyond their cost as a guaranteed profit whether it is the price of extending the life of Diablo Canyon, the cost of replacement green energy, or burying existing power lines or building new ones to increase the ability of the system to distribute more power.
The day is fast approaching when there will be more and more homeowners and renters who will be able to say their respective monthly mortgage and rent payments will be less than their monthly PG&E bill.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org