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By golly, farmers should be gouged for power, too

Okay all you 7,000 freeloading “private agribusinesses,” get out your checkbooks and start writing. Your friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) think you should be writing checks totaling $100 million more each year than you now pay for electricity.

EWG, also called “Peddlers of Fear” for its fear mongering about America's food supply, says farmers who buy surplus power from the Central Valley Project have not been paying enough for electrical power, even though the amount they pay covers power-generating costs.

By golly, if the rest of us are gouged for electrical power from profit-making utilities, EWG says CVP farmers should be gouged as well.

By law, CVP must generate its own power to move 2 trillion gallons of water annually through 1,437 miles of canals to thousands of farms. CVP generates about 5.5 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of hydroelectric power each year, but it needs only about 1 billion kWh to move the water.

Again, by law, the CVP cannot make a profit selling surplus power.

No fair, says EWG. Farmers should pay the same rate as Pacific Gas and Electric, the stockholder-owned, government-regulated monopoly, charges non-CVP power users for electricity.

No kidding. This is the latest headline-grabbing outburst from the so-called nonprofit, consumer watchdog EWG that rakes in millions each year from foundations to protect you and me from whatever EWG says we need protection. Next thing you know EWG will start comparing utility rates paid by Southern California Edison and PG&E customers and decide which ones should be paying more.

There will no free rides, says one of the nation's biggest foundation panhandlers.

I have nothing against PG&E making a profit, although I used to write my monthly power bills to “Pacific Graft and Extortion” until I joined the horde of on-line bill payers. I cannot enjoy that any more. Yes, they cashed my checks for years.

It would seem logical that EWG should consider researching why 7,000 CVP customers are paying $100 million less each per year for power. EWG might consider looking into how the CVP can operate so much more efficiently than PG&E.

The $100 million equates to about $1.4 million discount per customer. Extrapolate that to 15 million PG&E customers and there are some serious efficiency/dollars involved.

PG&E provides natural gas and electric service to approximately that many people in a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California. Granted, providing electrical power for farms and ranches is much different than providing power for residential and industrial customers. The infrastructure is much more expensive to build and maintain. But that much more expensive?

Regardless, CVP is operating an electrical utility very efficiently. Rather than recommending that CVP farmer customers pay higher prices for power and therefore charge consumers more for food and fiber, EWG should pin a medal on CVP.

However, chances of that happening are as likely as PG&E rebating 7,000 customers $100 million each year.

Or as likely as EWG coming clean on its financial statements.

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