Release 05-12      

June 20, 2005


Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990
ARB Applauds the Public Utility Commission's (PUC) Action for
Agricultural Pumps as a Boon to Clean Air

-- Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) congratulated the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for its approval of a rate plan by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) which competitively prices electricity for farmers who convert their diesel powered agricultural pumps to electric pumps.       

"The PUC's decision will help to eliminate as much as 3,000 tons per year of nitrogen oxides," said ARB Executive Officer, Catherine Witherspoon. "That means cleaner air for people to breathe, less cardiac and pulmonary disease; and cleaner air for plants to thrive in, which in turn means improved crop yields."

The PUC's decision allows a reduced rate plan that is designed to compete in price with diesel fuel, for farmers who opt to install electrically powered agricultural pumps rather than diesel powered ones. Farmers had resisted changing due to unstable rates of electricity, the cost of running power lines out to the engine, and the price advantage of diesel over electricity.

This rate plan, which lasts for ten years, locks in prices and increases the rate by one and a half percent every year. Both PG&E and SCE will also help pay for running power lines out to the engines.

With the adoption of the new rate schedule, the PUC has made the pollution cuts from agricultural engines now required for air quality clean-ups less burdensome.

"The PUC has streamlined the adoption of advanced clean air technology while serving and protecting the health and economy of California," Ms. Witherspoon added.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.