Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Governor and the Red Heat of Nuclear Energy

govschwarz_art_200v_20090914114447 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted a bill that would ensure that 33% of the state’s energy would be powered by renewable energy sources by 2020. The legislature delivered just such a bill. The governor now threatens to veto it and impose a solution via executive order instead.


Environmentalists who have been told about the governor's still-evolving plans said Schwarzenegger also was considering directing the California Air Resources Board to look at broadening the state's definition of renewable energy sources to include large hydroelectric dams and nuclear energy plants.

Right now, this is a comment just in passing. Nuclear energy isn’t renewable in the way the term is understood, so that’s just semantics. And Schwarzenegger hasn’t said, as far as we can find, that he feels the state can’t achieve its goal without nuclear – we’re going to assume it, but we don’t know it.

What we do know is that the legislation had broad support – environmentalist, labor unions, some major utilities, consumer groups – with opposition coming from business and trade organizations.

The latter, which “feared that limiting California utilities' use of energy credits in buying renewable energy from out-of-state generators would restrict electricity supplies and drive up prices,” appears to be where Schwarzenegger’s objections are rooted.

Schwarzenegger, in a letter to lawmakers in May, said he opposed any limitations on imports of green power.

The Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital blog agrees with the governor on nuclear energy:

On paper at least, [including nuclear energy] would also make it a lot easier to meet renewable-energy targets, since nuclear power punches above its weight. That is, nuclear power represents only 10% of U.S. electricity capacity, but 20% of its electricity generation. Since all the renewable-energy standards under consideration in Congress deal with the amount of electricity actually generated, that makes a big difference.


The L.A. Times story includes some sabre rattling about the efficacy of an executive order once the executive leaves, but let’s see if the legislature reworks its own bill to make it more appealing – and richer in nuclear energy.

The governor. Still looks like he could rip an alien beast in half. In Red Heat, he of course played a Soviet policeman.

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