The secret life of Michael Peevey - Page 7

California's top energy regulator rolls with power company executives behind the scenes

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Michael Peevey, California's top utility regulator, attended several trips last year with utility executives.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

Tesla manufactures sleek, electric, zero-emission sports cars with prices in the six-figures, and it's gearing up to roll out a model that will cost somewhere closer to $50,000. The company's success was helped by a sales-and-use-tax exclusion granted by the state of California last year. Peevey had a hand in that, too. Few Californians may have heard of the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), a state body within the Office of the Treasurer, which has the power to authorize sales-tax exclusions for companies that are developing alternative energy technologies. Peevey has a seat on it.

In October 2009, according to a CAEATFA document, Tesla was granted a sales tax exclusion from that financing authority. The sports car manufacturer had received a tax break of $3.3 million as of December 2010, and stands to gain a tax break as large as $29.1 million, depending on its property purchases. As a CAEATFA member, Peevey approved the deal by proxy.

A central question is whether the CalCEF dollars that benefited Tesla and other CalCEF portfolio investments were originally derived from PG&E shareholder profits or ratepayer funds. Adler was careful to note that the initial $30 million came from company shareholders, not PG&E customers. But Lynch pointed out that every dime in PG&E coffers originates with the millions of customers who pay utility bills.

Lynch noted another provision of the bankruptcy settlement agreement, which guarantees PG&E a minimum annual profit of 11.2 percent, catapulting it forever into a higher rate of return than the 8 percent to 11 percent profit traditionally granted by the CPUC in prior decades. "They're manipulating how big this bucket is to siphon off funds into programs like CalCEF," Lynch said. "It's all to give Peevey and his friends access — and to greenwash what was a very stinky deal for the ratepayer."

 

ELUSIVE CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

In California, a national leader in addressing climate change, the stakes are high in the energy sector. The CPUC is tasked not only with shoring up transmission-pipeline safety to prevent another San Bruno disaster, but helping to chart a course away from reliance on fossil fuel-powered energy sources.

CFEE, the Energy Coalition, and CalCEF share a common thread — their missions relate to advancing the cause of a clean energy future in California. And while utility funding and partnership is evident in all three operations, the overarching goal is understood to be green.

But as Adler observed, the utilities themselves present one of the greatest obstacles to progress on a clean-energy transition. While California has increased renewable energy sources, it's done a poor job at supplanting fossil fuel generation with green alternatives, in part because the CPUC has allowed for increasing fossil fuel power generation even as renewable energy expands. According to a listing on the California Energy Commission website, nine natural gas power plants have won approval statewide and are moving toward construction, while six new ones are under review.

The CalCEF approach to addressing climate change, rather than aggressively targeting polluting industries, is to encourage the fledgling green industry in hopes of facilitating success in partnership with the financial sector. In many cases, the backers of the clean-tech companies are the same players behind the big energy giants.

Environmental advocates are critical. "If anyone thinks the CPUC is set up to serve public interests, forget that," says Al Weinrub, executive director of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, a group that organized against PG&E's ill-fated Proposition 16 last year. "They never have and they never will."

Comments

Great job Rebecca-now we know how it why there are no consequences to blowing up a neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

The Sacramento Bee did an article on energy regulators/energy company junkets back in 2009 that is also worth a look.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2011 @ 11:56 am

Totally disgusted - Peevey has to be ousted, Governor Brown! Corruption cannot be tolerated. Peevey, politician wife, SCE, lavish trips, coddling utilities ... this is like a corrupt third world dictatorship...Peevey is a national embarassment.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2011 @ 11:22 am

1. Fire this worthless piece of garbage now, along with Richard Clark. They're either corrupt, or incompetent, or both. In any case, they need to go now.

2. Investigate both for corruption

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

1. WIRELESS SMART METERS – 100 TIMES MORE RADIATION THAN CELL PHONES.
Video Interview: Nuclear Scientist, Daniel Hirsch, (5 minutes: 38 seconds).
http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/04/20/daniel-hirsch-on-ccsts-fuzzy-math/

2. WIRELESS SMART METERS – CANCER, NERVOUS SYSTEM DAMAGE, ADVERSE REPRODUCTION AFFECTS.
Video Interview: Dr. Carpenter, New York Public Health Department, Dean of Public Health, (2 minutes: 23 seconds).
http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=3946

3. THE KAROLINSKA INSTITUTE IN STOCKHOLM (the University that gives the Nobel Prizes) ISSUES GLOBAL HEALTH WARNING AGAINST WIRELESS SMART METERS.
2-page Press Release:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48148346/Karolinska-Institute-Press-Release

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

your links about smart meters are a hoax. some nuts print a paper and you feel like smart meters are the end of the world.

get a life you mis-informed person.

they didn't issue a warning agaist smart meters in the report- they said 4 billion earthlings are affectd by radio waves- micro waves, etc. BFD. you probably dictated this on your cell phone.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 7:40 am

No, actually the dangers of radio emissions are more and more being recognized as quite real. Europe is already beginning to restrict cell phone towers and emissions because of this.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 10:06 am

Thanks for this, hope you will follow-up with a story on what power the CPUC has and how little recourse the public has. The control is almost absolute, but the oversight is close to zero.

This is why the toxic plume from Hinkley CA (Erin Brockovich) continues to grow and spread 20 years later. And, why utilities are seeking to evade responsibilities for Sierra wildfires caused by lack of power line maintenance. And, why on a Christmas morning in Rancho Cordova, a faulty gas connection critically burned and killed a family. Why underground vaults in San Francisco have been exploding for years, flinging manhole covers into the surrounding community. (The 'fix': put a spring on the cover because the explosions are sure to continue...) Why residents living around the Tesoro plant so often 'shelter in place'. Why funds meant to address flawed gas pipes were not used for that purpose. And why we have billions wasted on a flawed SmartMeter rollout that lacks complete R&D.

The CPUC licenses our nuclear power plants; not a reassuring thought!

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2011 @ 11:27 am

I appreciate this in-depth work on exposing the extent of the CPUC
President's coziness with those he is expected to regulate. Hopefully
it will be widely read and will hasten Mr. Peevey's departure and
assist in the appointing of responsible new leadership.

PG&E's SmartMeter debacle is a perfect example of a misguided, large-
scale industry experiment that has escaped much-needed regulation.
The serious health effects of the meters' wireless technology has
already ruined lives, leaving sensitive individuals sick, homeless, unable to
work and without recourse. That's in addition to the billing and
privacy issues, fire risk and real dangers of SmartGrid security
violation.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

I am shocked about this illuminating news about Michael Peevey!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

Resistance among Californian utilities to residential feed in tariffs reveals a protectionist attitude not even seen in Europe's energy industry these days…
http://bit.ly/q6XTDI

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2011 @ 9:40 am