California Energy Propositions 1A, 7 and 10 for November 2008 Dennis Silverman Physics and Astronomy UC Irvine October, 2008 www.physics.uci.edu/~silverma/
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 state’s general fund.
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 legislature. • 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 extension. • 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 luggage. • 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 cheaper. • 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 system. • 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 won’t 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 association. • 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 Mayor’s 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 obtain. • 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 public. • 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 7:California Solar and Clean Energy Initiative • 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 years. • 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 21.
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 California’s 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 education.
Facts about Prop. 10 • The only non-natural gas vehicle that would qualify would be the Toyota Prius for a $2,000 rebate. • 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: • www.physics.uci.edu/~silverma/
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