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California to Be Home to $600 Million Global Warming Research Center

Apr 10, 2008 - San Jose Mercury News

California will establish a high-profile, $600 million research center to devise solutions for global warming, the Public Utilities Commission decided in a 5-0 vote Thursday.

The California Institute for Climate Solutions will have a $60 million budget each year for 10 years. The money will come from ratepayers of the state's major utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves much of Northern California.

The new institute, which will seek matching funds to expand its reach, will administer research grants; work to transfer technologies to commercial businesses; and develop a related workforce for these companies.

Undecided is where the new institute will be located, although it will be administered by the University of California system. The Institute will be run by a governing board with the PUC president and the UC president as its co-chairs.

"Innovation -- technological and otherwise -- is the key to alleviating the adverse consequences of climate change," PUC President Michael Peevey said.

Jennifer Ward, spokeswoman for the University of California's Office of the President, said the institute "will play a critical role in helping California combat and reduce the effects of climate change. It can serve as an important resource for state policy makers, the private sector, and the general public."

Peevey said it's wrong for ratepayers alone to pay for the new institute.

"Broad-based taxpayer financing would certainly be preferable," he said. "But we cannot wait for the Legislature to allocate funds any more than the U.S. should defer decisive action on climate change until China and India take action."

A ratepayer's advocacy group, The Utility Reform Network of San Francisco, says the $600 million will go on electric bills that also might increase 30 percent in coming years to fund state-mandated greenhouse-gas-reduction programs.

"By cramming all these well-meaning proposals into electric bills, we may be creating more problems than we're solving," said TURN Executive Director Mark Toney. "With the economy in a downward spiral, higher rates mean more and more Californians will be unable to afford essentials like lighting, heating or cooling their homes, and cooking."

While many headlines detail venture investments into companies focusing on clean technologies, there is much academic and government work on climate change as well.

At Stanford, for instance, the Global Climate and Energy Project just celebrated its fifth birthday. Funded by corporations, including ExxonMobil and Toyota, the project researches a variety of energy-related topics.

In other PUC action Thursday, a 15-year, 150-megawatt contract between PG&E and enXco was approved. The Shiloh II wind farm will be located in Solano County, and is projected to go into operation by the end of the year.

Contact Matt Nauman at or (408) 920-5701.


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Copyright (c) 2008, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Updated: 2016/06/30

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