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California Energy Propositions 1A, 7 and 10 for November 2008


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Title: California Energy Propositions 1A, 7 and 10 for November 2008

California Energy Propositions 1A, 7 and 10 for
November 2008
  • Dennis Silverman
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • UC Irvine
  • October, 2008

Costs of the California High Speed Rail
Proposition 1A
  • This proposition is included here since some of
    the arguments for it concern energy and
    greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It proposes spending about 9 billion dollars,
    with an additional 9 billion in interest
    payments to begin Phase I of a central valley
    high speed train from Anaheim through Los Angeles
    to San Francisco.
  • The total of phase I will also require local,
    state and federal contributions of 24 billion
    more to complete for a total of 33 billion.
  • Total cost including interest payments on the
    Prop. 1A bond, unless more interest is to be
    paid, is 43 billion.
  • Phase II to complete the 700 mile system to
    include Sacramento, Oakland, Riverside and San
    Diego will cost an additional 12 billion, if no
    interest is to be paid.
  • An additional 1 billion and 1 billion in
    interest in Prop. 1A is to be distributed to
    cities for mass transit infrastructure.
  • This brings the total to at least 57 billion.

Costs of Current State Bonds
  • From the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 28
  • California owes about 53 billion on
    infrastructure bonds.
  • Another 68 billion is authorized but unsold.
  • The state is currently paying 6.7 billion a year
    in principal and interest on bonds (out of a
    total budget of about 100 billion a year).
  • The 10 billion from Prop. 1A will take about
    650 million a year out of the states general

(No Transcript)
High Speed Rail Routes
  • The high speed rail will run 96 trains a day.
  • The high speed sector is in the central valley,
    not in the cities.
  • There will be an express that runs non-stop from
    LA to SF which is the 2 hr 40 minute train.
  • At the next level are a local for cities near LA
    (probably including the Irvine train) that then
    becomes an express to SF.
  • There will also be a local for SF peninsula
    cities which will then be an express to LA.
  • These will presumably take more time, including
    maybe another hour for the route to Irvine.
  • Estimated traffic is 73 million a year, which is
    equivalent to everyone in the state making a
    round trip every year.
  • For comparison, in 2007 all four LA airports
    combined had 77 million passengers, and SFO had
    35 million passengers.
  • The population of California in 2030 is projected
    to be 50 million, from 37 million now.

More Details
  • This proposition is sponsored by the California
  • It is supported by Governor Schwarzenegger and
    essentially all California cities.
  • Each segment must be paid for by matching funds
    from private, local or federal sources.
  • The initial Phase I plan goes from Anaheim to SF.
  • The extension to Irvine is not included in Phase
    I, but looks like a short, less expensive
  • Phase I cannot be built until all included
    segments get matching funds, which might take 5
    to 10 years.
  • Rail travel uses about ¼ the fuel for a single
    passenger than car travel (at 25 mpg?). However,
    a family in a car uses the same amount per
    passenger as rail travel.
  • After the public pays for the full cost of
    building it, the yearly revenues may not even pay
    for operations.
  • The LA to SF trip is estimated to cost 50.
  • The peak power required for the electric trains
    is about ½ of that of a nuclear reactor, or about
    ½ of a gigawatt.
  • The OC Business Council estimates 23,000 new jobs
    to Orange County by 2020, 103 million more tax
    revenue by 2030, and that residents will save 23
    million annually by choosing high speed rail over
    flying. Since there are 3 million people in the
    OC, that is a whopping 8 per person.

My Arguments Against the High Speed Rail
  • First, the problem of getting from LA to SF
    quickly as well as to other California cities has
    already been solved by faster air flights of
    about an hour. This is also good since the seats
    may be cramped on both.
  • The air is a free and usually smooth path, with
    no intersecting roads.
  • Going to high altitude lowers air resistance and
    allows much higher speeds.
  • Security on a vulnerable high speed (220 mph)
    train will undoubtedly be just as strict as air
    travel and with similar delays on passengers and
  • Reservations must be made ahead of time as on
    high speed trains in other countries.
  • The train will also be vulnerable along its
    ground track, as opposed to airplanes.

My Arguments Against the High Speed Rail
  • For business travelers, the need to get to the
    city center is lessened since many business
    conferences are at hotels next to airports.
  • The 100 per flight is currently not a major
    concern for business travelers.
  • The near future of rapid and revolutionary
    communications might decrease the need for much
    business travel.
  • The costs on the East Coast Acela higher speed
    route are comparable to air flight costs, not
  • This recalls an old rail adage on costs All the
    traffic will bear.
  • For family vacations, more time is available to
    drive, a family can drive more cheaply than
    paying many fares, and the family will have a car
    at their destination rent free.
  • If the rail competes with the airlines, it might
    make the airlines financial situation even worse.

More Arguments Against the High Speed Train
  • In transportation, the number of passenger are
    usually overestimated, as in the case of the
    recent statewide bus routes that were
    discontinued for lack of passengers, and for toll
    roads and lanes.
  • The air travel costs include paying for the
    airlines and airplanes, as opposed to the high
    speed train where the public prepays for the
  • Air transport is equivalent to 50 mpg which is
    already half the fuel usage of a typical car.
    Cutting it down to ¼ of a car by taking a train
    is saving little.
  • Alternative Public Transportation improvements
    are trains to the major airports, and more
    extensive city networks.
  • Smart technology could speed up airport security
    and check in.
  • It can also improve access to complicated local
    bus and train systems.

Still More
  • The present bullet trains in Japan and on the
    Bos-Wash route connect many closely spaced large
    cities on narrow corridors, as opposed to the
    long farmland stretch between LA and the Bay
    Area, which is best served by faster airplanes.
  • The train route requires many overpasses for cars
    so that the route at 220 mph wont be endangered
    by normal crossing barriers.
  • The more stops and branches that are added for
    usefulness, the slower the average speed will be.
  • 1 billion of the bill is to be given to local
    communities for infrastructure to support the
    train, and this is causing some local politicians
    to back the proposal. However, the local funding
    is being paid for by a 2 to 1 ratio by bond
    financing the bill by state taxpayers, or a 20 to
    1 or 50 to 1 financing if the high speed train is
    a failure.

And Ending on Proposition IA
  • Phase II would include Oakland and Sacramento
    (but roundabout through San Jose from SF),
    Irvine, and San Diego (but roundabout through
    Riverside, not Irvine) for a total system cost
    estimated at 40 billion by the state, and 65 to
    81 billion by Howard Jarvis taxpayers
  • Adding these routes is a good initial selling
    point for the train statewide.
  • However, there would probably be many fewer
    passengers on such routes to smaller cities, and
    the Phase II expansion would be very problematic.
  • There are of course already air routes that serve
    such cities.
  • Using 90 billion to upgrade a future 30 million
    California cars by individual purchasers would
    instead give 3,000 per car, almost enough to
    convert all of them to hybrids or adding other
    fuel saving technology, leading to really vast
    emissions saving.

General Comments on Propositions 7 and 10
  • The State of California through the Governor and
    legislature, and many cities and industries, have
    detailed plans and goals in all areas that cause
    greenhouse gas emissions.
  • These goals are mutually agreed on, somewhat
    optimistic, but very carefully detailed by the
    state energy commission, CARB, and the Mayors
    Climate Protection Agreement.
  • Then along come two individuals, through covering
    industries, to write their own subset of this
    into irrevocable laws that will cost a lot of
    money and benefit mostly their own industries.
  • The laws can only be overturned by a 2/3 vote of
    both legislatures (Prop. 10) or ¾ vote of both
    legislatures (Prop. 7), which are very hard to
  • The propositions cannot be really read or
    understood by the electorate.
  • The proposers are playing off of the commendable
    good feeling of the California public toward
    solving the global warming problem, but the
    proposers are cynically taking advantage of the
  • It is important for the public to trust in the
    government, the legislature and the cities and
    reject these propositions.
  • Many environmental groups, newspapers and other
    reliable organizations oppose these propositions,
    including being unanimously opposed by the Public
    Utilities Commission.

Proposition 7California Solar and Clean Energy
  • The proposition requires private and public
    utilities to reach 50 renewable energy by 2025.
  • The opposite sides dispute whether the law
    requires a cap of 3 or 10 increase in cost for
    renewable power.
  • The opposite sides dispute whether facilities
    under 30 megawatts will be counted.
  • Renewables herein are solar, wind, small hydro
    and geothermal.
  • The contracts are required to be signed for 20
  • The proposition is funded to 7.25 million by
    Peter Sperling, an Arizonan (but he owns about 30
    homes around the world).
  • He is on the board of directors of the Apollo
    group that bought Realogy Corp. for 9 billion,
    the parent company of Coldwell Banker and Century

What is wrong with Proposition 7
  • The proposition excludes large hydro dams, which
    are already a major renewable, especially in
    northern California.
  • It also excludes nuclear, which is 16 of
    Californias electricity, and which does not
    produce greenhouse gases.
  • It says nothing about conservation, which is far
    more effective than getting more power.
  • Since most renewables are currently not less
    expensive than standard power rates plus 10,
    they will not be required by the proposition,
    thus failing to deliver what is useful to cut
    down on greenhouse gases.
  • Even the current state goal of 20 renewable by
    2010 would force utilities to go out of state for
    sources, rather than allowing time to build our
    own facilities in state.
  • The proposition may not count home, commercial
    and industrial photovoltaic units.
  • It does not include the important goal of home
    solar water heating.

Concluding on Proposition 7
  • The proposition, by fixing goals and 20 year
    contracts, is in direct violation of normal
    economic policies of improving new technologies
    and of competitiveness to continually minimize
    costs in the future.
  • Solar and wind power are very intermittent in
    nature. Using 50 of power from these means that
    you need a large backup of standard natural gas,
    coal, and nuclear as base power to rely on when
    solar and wind are not available.
  • It is much better to rely on ourselves and our
    government over the next twenty years to make
    smart economic and technological choices, than to
    lock down the program at this one instant.

Proposition 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and
Renewable Energy
  • This bill will provide 5 billion in specific
    energy rebates and grants over the next 10 years,
    with an additional financing cost of 5 billion
    to be paid over 30 years.
  • It is sponsored by T. Boone Pickens, backer of
    the Pickens Plan for Energy, and owner of Clean
    Energy Fuels Corp. of Seal Beach which supports
    natural gas vehicles.
  • Most of it, 3.4 billion, would be spent rebating
    natural gas fleet trucks and vans.
  • Natural gas is less smog polluting, and cuts
    greenhouse gases from autos.
  • About 1.25 billion will be for solar power
    research, development and production.
  • 0.3 billion will be for demonstration and

Facts about Prop. 10
  • The only non-natural gas vehicle that would
    qualify would be the Toyota Prius for a 2,000
  • A Honda Civic natural gas vehicle will get a
    10,000 rebate. However, there are only 100
    natural gas refueling stations in California.
  • Natural gas truck and van rebates range up to
    50,000 per vehicle.
  • There is no prevention for a company getting the
    rebate by buying a truck in California and
    driving it out of the state for its use.
  • It is opposed by the Sierra Club, the Union of
    Concerned Scientists and the California League of
    Women Voters.
  • Presentation on my website

The Pickens Plan
  • The national Pickens Energy Plan is to lower
    imported oil by
  • Switching cars to natural gas
  • Getting the natural gas by replacing natural gas
    utilities by 1.2 trillion dollars of windmills
    in Texas and northward, with new, long
    transmission lines
  • Some major problems with this plan
  • natural gas may have to be imported, from the
    same countries from which oil is imported from,
    and with a developing natural gas OPEC that may
    raise prices
  • wind power is variable, and at this cost is more
    expensive than reliable and local nuclear power,
    and maybe four times more costly
  • natural gas plants will still be needed on
    standby to replace wind power when it is low
  • greater fuel economy by transportation is being
    mandated already
  • natural gas is best used to replace coal power
    for electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions