Pacific Gas and Electric Endorses Federal Legislation on Climate Change

At a recent lecture by Al Gore, an audience member, who happened to represent a major North American power company, asked the former Vice President the following question. 'How can electric companies be expected to address climate change when they have a responsibility to shareholders to produce energy as inexpensively as possible in an effort to maximize profits?' Gore responded quite calmly by suggesting that power companies should begin by discontinuing their efforts to stymie federal greenhouse gas regulations. He argued that future federal regulations would put all companies on an equal playing and would therefore not jeopardize the industry's profitability. Although this was a clever response, it seemed unlikely that we would see electric utilities pushing for mandatory legislation on climate change. That was until, Peter Darbee, the head of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E;) announced his company's support of California's recent legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, PG&E; officials have been outspoken in promoting the adoption of a federal cap-and-trade policy. This position was echoed by PG&E;'s Vice President for Corporate and Environmental Affairs who said "stand-alone programs are imperfect solutions to climate change a federal program is where we want to be". If only this were the start of a national trend.