Fossil Gas, PR, and You

Check out this great article, PG&E Wants More Fossil Fuel, in today’s East Bay Express, which begins

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has attempted to recast itself in recent years as a green-friendly utility. It has backed climate change legislation and has run extensive marketing campaigns, highlighting its investments in renewable energy. Two months ago, the utility made headlines when it publicly withdrew from the US Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s backward views on global warming. But PG&E’s attempt to build two new fossil-fuel-powered plants in the East Bay that critics say are unnecessary is raising questions over whether the utility’s eco-friendly image is more hype than reality.

The article gets to the crux of the matter when it states:

The San Francisco-based environmental group Pacific Environment filed an official protest late last month with the California Public Utilities Commission over PG&E’s proposals. The protest points out that from 2003 to 2007, while the utility was bragging about how green-friendly it has become, the actual percentage of renewable power it has used declined from 12.4 percent to 11.3 percent. “They’re very savvy at public relations,” said Rory Cox, California program director for Pacific Environment. “The reality is the renewable content of their energy portfolio has gone down.”

Then PG&E makes the stellar responsive argument:

In an interview, PG&E spokesman Blair Jones did not dispute the utility’s renewable energy shortfall over the past several years. But he maintained that PG&E has signed enough contracts to buy renewables to meet the statewide 20 percent requirement in the future — although he would not specify when.

I wonder if that includes PG&E’s contract to purchase 200 MW of power from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016?

Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.

This project will be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission on November 20.

So, while PG&E is moving forward with its plans to build another 1,550 MW of fossil gas powerplants, its defense is that it has signed a contract with a startup that’s going to beam solar energy from space?

Yep, that’s it.  I feel the air getting cleaner, don’t you?

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