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Op-Ed – Cheryl Auger | Don’t Fuel Climate Change
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Op-Ed – Cheryl Auger | Don’t Fuel Climate Change

a logo of PG&E with fire coming out of it


a logo of PG&E with fire coming out of it

PG&E (Photo – Graphics Dept.)

I was surprised to see PG&E install diesel powered generators to provide energy to the grid during recent high wind storms.

By Cheryl Auger

They needed distributed sources of energy to help meet demand while PG&E curtailed their transmission lines due to several previous fires. I was shocked to see diesel being the utilities’ choice of back-up power, knowing that we are currently in a climate crisis. Diesel is dirty. Diesel pollutes.  Diesel is made from petroleum and is one of the reasons our air quality didn’t improve during Covid since the trucking lobbyists got the trucking industry exempt from clean air standards years ago. It’s also the reason that our ports have diminished air quality right now due to the cargo ships hanging out waiting to be unloaded. They also use diesel.

According to the EPA diesel’s health and climate impact are significant. Diesel exhaust can cause severe health problems such as asthma and respiratory illness. It can also worsen existing cases of heart disease and lung disease. Diesel engine emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level oxygen, which can damage crops, trees, and other vegetation.  Diesel emissions are responsible for acid rain, which affects soil, streams, and water. It also enters the human food chain through water, produce, and fish.  All of this contributes to global warming.

Cost-effective green energy is now possible. Solar energy is the best way to improve energy reliability without affecting the environment or fracking fossil fuels. PG&E should be looking to rooftop solar to provide the extra distributed energy and reduce the demand on the grid. Instead, PG & E along with SCE and SDG&E have drafted a new rate structure, NEM-3 which is set to be approved soon by the CPUC. This new rate structure will reduce rooftop solar sales because it increases connection fees and lowers rooftop solar payments. It will also make the return on investment for future systems too slow to be attractive as an investment.


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