New group CARE worries about energy prices

California’s fight against climate change has, so far, proved popular with voters. But among businesses, it’s a very different story.

While some support the state’s policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, others emphatically don’t. Manufacturers and oil companies in particular have sought to delay, alter or kill some of those policies, saying they will push electricity and gasoline prices through the roof.

The latest salvo in this fight arrived Monday with the launch of a business group called Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy also known as CARE. The group’s home page makes its position clear. “California is approaching an energy crisis – state policies are forcing higher costs and reliability problems.”

The site contains a new report, commissioned by CARE, arguing that energy prices in California will “increase sharply” in the next several years. The report, written by Navigant Consulting, focuses on state laws and policies that will boost the use of renewable power, limit greenhouse gas emissions and force oil companies to use more biofuels.

Those fears about potentially rising prices aren’t confined to the business community.

Last year the Little Hoover Commission, an organization that typically gets high marks for objective analysis, recommended that California officials analyze the costs of all the state’s global warming policies before adopting any more. In particular, the commission warned that no one had studied how each of the policies might affect the others, potentially leading to unexpected and costly results.

And some of the more eye-popping numbers in the CARE report actually come from the state. For example, the report cites recent estimates from the California Energy Commission that electricity rates could increase anywhere from 26 percent to 42 percent between 2012 and 2020.

But CARE’s membership immediately brought the new group and its report under fire.

Its members include the Western States Petroleum Association, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. All three were sponsors of the AB32 Implementation Group, an organization accused by environmentalists of trying to weaken California’s landmark global warming law, AB32.

“Whether they call themselves the AB32 Implementation Group, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Fueling California or Californians for Affordable & Reliable Energy, the message and the messengers are the same, just repackaged with a different website address,” wrote Susan Frank, director of the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy, on her organization’s website.

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