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Power Drain

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Publication Date: May 2007

Publisher(s): Environmental Working Group

Author(s): Bill Walker; Renee Sharp

Topic: Agriculture, forestry and fishing (Agricultural economics and farm holdings)
Energy (Electric power)
Environment (Water, waterways, and water management)

Keywords: energy subsidies; water; Central Valley Project

Type: Report

Abstract:

Every year, the Central Valley Project (CVP) moves more than 2 trillion gallons of water - about 18 percent of California's fresh water supply - to thousands of farms in the state's arid heartland. Massive pumps push the water through 1,437 miles of canals. The electricity used in one year to move water around the CVP would power all of the homes in Chico for more than 18 months, and at current Pacific Gas & Electric Co. rates, cost customers more than $100 million.

But farms in the CVP, the largest taxpayer-funded federal irrigation system in the country, pay next to nothing for the power that provides their lifeblood. Rates for the staggering amount of electricity needed to move CVP water are not affected by the volatile energy market that has hit other California power customers since 1992, nor are they regulated by state or federal agencies.