James Boyle recently wrote that he was concerned about the sale of PSE to a group of foreign investors. This shouldn’t be a problem since the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) has as their mission statement: “The UTC protects consumers by ensuring that utility and transportation services are fairly priced, available, reliable and safe.”
The citizens of Washington recently passed I-937 which requires the use of narrowly defined renewable energy sources by utilities serving over 25,000 customers. PSE is required to build generating resources to meet this requirement. Never mind that the legislation effectively creates a government-mandated market for basically only one renewable energy source (commercial wind power); we should all be happy that Washington is a “leader in becoming energy independent” and we are also solving the world-wide problem of climate change. To accomplish this goal requires large amounts of capital – in fact, PSE needs to spend $5.7 billion on infrastructure in the next five years – more than the company was worth last October!
But wait a minute, haven’t we been told wind power is the cheapest, most cost competitive energy source available today? I guess the huge growth in infrastructure cost must be due to that pesky UTC requirement that energy sources be reliable since PSE intends to build a wind farm one year and a natural gas fired power plant the next – transmission lines as well. This works out very nicely for the potential new Canadian owners since PSE already buys its natural gas from a foreign source – Canada. The increased use of natural gas is good for PSE, good for Canada, and good for the environment. If Canadian gas sources become scarce, don’t worry, there are plans in the works to build a huge LNG port off the Oregon coast to receive imported natural gas from some of our best trading partners – Russia for instance.
And we shouldn’t be concerned about some boring, high paid, white collar jobs leaving Bellevue or even that the data centers that run PSE will eventually be located outside Washington; Governor Gregoire has promised us that “going green” will create 20,000 “green collar” jobs. I wonder if a “green collar job” such as servicing a foreign designed and manufactured wind turbine that was installed by a foreign-owned wind developer and bought by a company owned by foreign investors is really in the interest of Washington residents.
9 May 2008
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