On Tuesday, August 31, I was in the audience at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley as Peter Darbee, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., responded to moderator questions about the energy industry and the company’s stance on climate change.
The post below consists of Part 3, the final part, of my record of the conversation – all portions are included in chronological order. Read the previous posts on the conversation – Part 1 and Part 2.
An ellipsis (…) indicates that I was not able to capture the words or thoughts skipped. Moderator questions are paraphrased. Responses are included as accurately as possible – punctuation choices are mine. The moderators were Bev Alexander (BA) and Joey, a student.
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SmartMeters – I saw your talk at the CPUC - there were protesters saying Dumb Meters. Talk about the backlash.
In California, there has been a tier system of rates… Tiers depend on how much power you use. Originally the tiers were not so steep…all of the rate changes have been amplified in tiers 3-5. In Bakersfield last year…had 17 days over 100 degrees. The previous year had 6… And I’m talking about in July. So folks get rocketed into the higher tiers. There were some folks who didn’t have SmartMeters… Some had SmartMeters for a year and hadn’t had issues until that July… Then they held hearings… And this whole outcome is an inadvertant result of government, freezing the first 2 tiers.
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… But PG&E could have done better at communications… We kind of assumed they were infrastructure… We assumed that people didn’t give a lot of thought about the meters on the side of the house… We were wrong.
In California, it’s a very activist state – you came out in support of AB 32, PG&E advocated decoupling, used to support shareholder incentives for energy efficiency, has a very aggressive RPS at 33% – combined with the federal level, there’s potential for overlapping and conflicting mandates – what works? Why these positions?
I’ve done a lot of thinking about climate change…and where is the public on climate change…and they have concerns it may happen…but they don’t want to pay a lot…have to be very attentive to the cost concerns of our customers. What this says is energy efficiency is a no brainer.
…AB 32 envisions a cap and trade system…time to transition to cleaner technologies…for utilities benefits pass through to customers.
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Climate change is a planetary issue, and if a state rigs the system to help themselves, it gets expensive… If we do it in a very expensive way, the people of Ca will revolt, and it will set us back tremendously.
How did you teach your kids about energy efficiency? What advice do you have for future leaders on climate change?
The kids would leave the lights on, the stereo on…in every single room… I instituted a policy that if you leave the lights on, and you’re not in the room, it’s 25 cents…went up as they got older… We now have kids that are tremendously concerned about the environment…
The challenge of climate change will fall more greatly on you and your children…
Write your obituary… The way you create transformational change is you put a stake in the ground for the future…an attractive future…then plan from future back to present. You have a choice.
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This exchange was followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
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