I came across an article on the Web this morning — it was titled: “Global Warming Programs Force Hike in California Power Bills”. I thought to myself: “This is interesting. I’m curious about how they’ve quantified this, as a number of years ago I attempted to do just that and found the numbers to be somewhat modest.” In fact, I arranged to help fund the University of San Diego to develop an electric rate projection model by which anyone could calculate rate impacts of State emission-reduction programs. It is located here, just in case you are interested in doing your own calculation.
It turns out that this “news” source hadn’t used the USD calculator. In fact, it didn’t bother using any credible facts at all. The name of the organization is “Heartland” and when I went to their website and perused their Board members and funding sources, their bias became quite evident. Just to make sure that the public didn’t believe the tripe being peddled by this web site, I posted the following comment:
“While I don’t disagree with your premise that California rates are higher due to the efforts of California to reduce harmful emissions from coal and natural gas emissions, I’m afraid many of the factual assertions contained in your article are flat out wrong. I was very involved in the SDG&E rate cases referenced in this article and SDG&E didn’t get anything close to a $1.73 billion rate hike in the last case — your figures are off by magnitudes. You basic math is wildly off– SCE is five times larger than SDG&E and its alleged $1.95 billion amounts to a 10% increase how can a utility that is 1/5 the size of SCE get a comparable rate increase and it amount to only 2% more (10 vs. 12%). Your assertions that California rates are 58% higher than Oregon’s or 44% higher than Nevada’s is also off dramatically. I note that you don’t offer any attributions. If you were to look at Energy Department data you’d have seen your errors. Then you end with a quote by some person at the “Institute for Energy Research” (which appears to be an organization supported by the Oil and Gas industry based upon its website) stating that the increased rates bring “little to no resulting benefit”. While you (and I) have argued that the utility rate increases are unwarranted, no reasonable person can assert that there’s been no benefit to the reduced air emissions. The data on California’s improved air quality is inarguable. I’m afraid your article is factually deficient. If you are sincerely interested in disseminating useful information to the public, I recommend some better fact-checking and more attention paid to the bias of some of your sources.”
While I have little expectation that they’ll publish this comment, I offer it as People’s Exhibit 5,672,205,218,577 that take what you read on the Internet with little more than a grain of salt. If you can’t corroborate the facts asserted in an article, then ignore it. More than ever, the phrase that is most applicable to Web browsing is “Caveat Lector” — Reader Beware!
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