A big piece of the story was missing in the article about the modest increase in electricity rates due to the decrease in natural gas costs (“Small hike expected in PG&E bills,” Dec. 31).
Natural gas prices have fallen recently largely because hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is increasing gas supplies. Because much of Sonoma County’s electricity comes from natural gas powered generators, the price of natural gas and electricity are directly related. Electricity rates are now artificially low while the real costs are off the charts.
Fracking is prohibitively dangerous because it contaminates wells, surface water and land. It may also cause earthquakes. Once fracking companies are required to pay for the damage they cause, gas prices will continue their inevitable rise.
We can and must do better than depending on dirty energy produced by fracking. Sonoma County can harness local solar, wind, and geothermal energy to generate most of our power. But the task is made difficult when these sources seem expensive when compared with fossil fuel whose true costs are suppressed by subsidies, tax breaks and the ability to keep the accounting of the destruction they cause off the books.
Renewable Energy Implementation Manager, Climate Protection Campaign
Published January 16, 2012