PG&E, clean-tech industry fight Prop. 23 in California

The Bay Area clean-tech industry says California’s leadership on climate change and renewable energy is growing jobs and efforts to thwart climate change legislation will only delay the inevitable.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. joined July 6 with hundreds of other businesses opposing Proposition 23, the state ballot initiative bankrolled by Texas oil companies that would block AB32, California’s climate legislation, until unemployment reaches 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. That’s only happened three times the last 30 years.

AB32 regulates greenhouse gas emissions and would make the state’s largest polluters reduce emissions or pay. It is set to be rolled out gradually starting in 2012.

Even while climate change legislation targets utilities, oil refiners and other large polluters, PG&E said California’s economy will benefit both from the renewable portfolio standard that mandates utilities get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy, and from AB32.

“We believe they’re compatible with a strong economy and cleaner environment and we’d like to help AB32 succeed,” said PG&E spokeswoman Cindy Pollard.

It’s unclear how much AB32 might actually cost PG&E or its customers because details of the bill have not yet been settled but refiners Valero and Tesoro, based in Texas, have put up 79 percent of the money to fund the ballot initiative and the campaign to get it passed while PG&E is taking a different approach.

“PG&E and many companies already have invested to comply with the law and they don’t want to see that money thrown out the window,” said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the campaign against Prop. 23.

Read the full story in the San Francisco Business Times.

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