Friday, December 14, 2007

Proposal For Center To Coordinate Energy, Climate Change Research

Proposal For Center To Coordinate Energy, Climate Change Research
More embarrassing riches - life sciences and energy research
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The University of California may soon become home to an ambitious, $600 million institute that would coordinate energy and climate change research at schools and labs throughout the state, supported by money from your monthly electric bills.

The proposed California Institute for Climate Solutions would bring together universities - such as UC Berkeley and Stanford - better known as rivals than partners.

Each school and national laboratory involved already has scientists and engineers hunting for sources of energy, more efficient ways to use power and other means to fight global warming. Now their efforts would be coordinated by a central administration hosted by UC.

The project's substantial price tag would be paid through Californians' utility bills. A typical homeowner could pay an extra 30 cents per month as a result.

The idea is the brainchild of Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission will hold a public workshop today in San Francisco to hammer out some of the issues, although a final commission vote on the project is probably months away.

Peevey sees the proposed institute as a way to cement California's position as the world's premier location for energy and climate change research.

"It's to marshal the best minds to address the biggest calamity mankind has ever faced," said Peevey, who under the current proposal could become one of the institute's co-chairmen. "You put all this together. There's so much going on here, and it builds on itself."

Although they have haggled over some of the details, the idea has drawn broad support from other schools after the University of California formally proposed it in September.

Several consumer groups, however, have questioned the wisdom of asking utility customers to pay for it.

The universities and labs, they note, already have funding for their own research. And utility customers already pay for other renewable energy projects, such as California's rebates for homeowners who install solar panels.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

E-mail David R. Baker at

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