Jim Patterson and the California Valley Solar Ranch

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OPINION (San Luis Obis­po County)

Fifth Dis­trict Super­vi­sor Jim Pat­ter­son has dis­trib­uted a cam­paign brochure tout­ing the fact that he “has led the effort” to approve two solar ener­gy projects and “pro­vide near­ly 400 skilled work­er posi­tions” at the Cal­i­for­nia Val­ley Solar Ranch (CVSR).

Since Mr. Pat­ter­son evi­dent­ly con­sid­ers this the major achieve­ment of his tenure as coun­ty super­vi­sor to date, as evi­denced by the top billing giv­en to the ranch in the brochure, it is worth look­ing into some oth­er facts about this project that he prefers not to tell his pre­sumed voters:

· CVSR will gen­er­ate only 12 per­ma­nent jobs per year after con­struc­tion, accord­ing to devel­op­er Sun­pow­er Corp., after receiv­ing a $1.2 bil­lion fed­er­al­ly-guar­an­teed loan, or $100 mil­lion per per­ma­nent job.

· Sun­pow­er Corp. was already a major­i­ty for­eign-owned com­pa­ny (by French oil giant Total) and was export­ing jobs to Mex­i­co (build­ing a fac­to­ry in Mex­i­cali) when it received the fed­er­al loan and was pro­mot­ed by Pat­ter­son and others.

· CVSR will not have to pay prop­er­ty tax­es on its solar pan­els, depriv­ing the coun­ty of an esti­mat­ed $14 mil­lion in tax rev­enue a year.

· It signed a con­tract with PG&E to sell it elec­tric­i­ty at approx­i­mate­ly 50 per­cent above mar­ket rates, cost­ing its rate pay­ers, includ­ing San Luis Obis­po Coun­ty cit­i­zens, $463 mil­lion over the life of the contract.

· Despite these lav­ish sub­si­dies, Sun­pow­er lost $604 mil­lion in 2011 and its stock price is down over 70 per­cent since April 2011 and 90 per­cent since 2007, and, accord­ing to Total’s CEO, would already be bank­rupt had it not been acquired by Total.

Mr. Pat­ter­son and like-mind­ed offi­cials would undoubt­ed­ly jus­ti­fy the huge eco­nom­ic costs such schemes impose on the cit­i­zens of our coun­ty by invok­ing the para­mount objec­tive of fight­ing glob­al warming.

So let us for a minute look at how much good Cal­i­for­nia can do to that effect. Even if one assumes, which I do not, that there is glob­al warm­ing, that it is indeed anthro­pogenic and that there is an urgent need to cut down CO2 emis­sions, noth­ing Cal­i­for­nia or the Unit­ed States, for that mat­ter, can do will make the slight­est dif­fer­ence in glob­al emis­sions, giv­en that Chi­na, India and 140 oth­er coun­tries refuse to participate.

The Unit­ed States’ cur­rent emis­sions of green house gasses are 4.2 giga­tons per year, decreas­ing at a rate of 5 per­cent per annum. California’s share is some 500 mln tons. China’s emis­sions are 7.7 giga­tons going up at 13 per­cent per year. Should Cal­i­for­nia decide to elim­i­nate all of its emis­sions and go back to a hunter-gath­er­er type of soci­ety, the effect would be a one-time, 50 per­cent reduc­tion of Chi­nese year­ly emis­sions growth.

Alex Alex­iev is a vis­it­ing fel­low at the Hud­son Insti­tute in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. He writes for sev­er­al nation­al pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing Nation­al Review.

Source:  http://calcoastnews.com/2012/04/jim-patterson-and-the-california-valley-solar-ranch/

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