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Prop. 7 pits views on energy

Supporters say it will lead to cleaner energy sources, but others say rates will rise.

September 04, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

GLENDALE — Of the 12 ballot measures slated for California’s Nov. 4 election, voters will be asked to consider two energy measures that could precipitously affect local utility bills, including ones in Glendale.

One of those, Proposition 7, would require all electric utilities in California, such as Glendale Water & Power, to acquire 40% of their electricity from solar and clean-energy facilities by 2020 and half of its power from renewable energy by 2025.

Under current law, utilities are asked to procure 20% of its power from renewable resources by 2010.

If the measure passes, utility providers would be asked to generate at least 2% of its power from renewable energy sources instead of the current rate of 1% to meet demand.

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Supporters of the bill said Wednesday that the propositions passage will benefit environmentally conscious Californians in the march toward cleaner energy sources.

“The people of California really get it that we have to move toward renewable energy,” said Steve Hopcraft, spokesman for California for Solar and Clean Energy. “It’s laudable they have a 25% goal, but we don’t think it’s enough.”

Hopcraft said prices will rise as utilities shift from coal and oil to cleaner-burning and renewable sources, but “we don’t expect that to be the case in the future.”

Proposition 7 would bar utilities from passing on financial penalties to customers as a result of energy fines companies may incur from slowed renewable energy production. It also aims to cap price impacts on consumer’s electricity bills at about 3%, though analysis from the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst found that “the measure includes no specific provisions to implement or enforce this declaration.”

The analyst’s point is one that the measure’s opponents have highlighted in their attempt to block Proposition 7’s passage.

A broad coalition of oil companies and environmental groups have joined forces to help defeat the measure on the back of $27.7 million from Edison International, PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energy, three of the state’s largest utility companies.

Joining them is nearly every major environmental group in the state, including the National Resources Defense Council, officials said.

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