The Ventura Chamber’s Energy Committee continues to expand its focus on developing partnerships and relationships with stakeholders in the energy field. Inclusive of traditional and alternative energy providers, the Committee’s priority is to be a forum where community members are able to obtain factual information on energy and the importance of reliable and affordable sources of energy.
One of the topics at the July meeting was the economic impact to Ventura County from the energy industry. For example, the oil and gas industry employs 7,375 individuals within Ventura County. Total tax revenues from the industry segment are $862.9 million, funding local government, health and human services and education. In addition, millions of dollars in direct charitable contributions are provided for children and human services, education and community economic development. It is imperative that any discussion or potential action in reducing oil and gas resources include a strategy for the replacement of jobs, economic activity and tax revenues critical to the financial well-being of the community as well as how to build the infrastructure needed to deliver those resources to the consumers.
Water, more specifically available water and affordable water, continues to be a point of discussion and concern for both residents and businesses. The drought is having a direct impact on consumers with lower supplies and higher costs. Additionally, the current drought has also resulted in a 35% reduction in hydroelectric energy. As one of the least expensive methods for the generation of electric power, more expensive sources have been tapped to replace the lost power. This results in a negative impact on small business and lower income consumers, as prices rise to compensate for the higher costs. Other cost increases impacting consumers and affordability are the $6 billion needed for infrastructure upgrades to comply with new environmental and sustainability standards and the undetermined costs that will be associated with the mandated conversions necessary to meet the goal of producing 33% electric energy from renewal and alternative sources by 2020.
The State Legislature is currently in recess with hearings scheduled to recommence the first week of August. The Chamber is joining with other strategic partners to form coalitions addressing the concerns and unintended consequences of legislative actions. The Chamber will continue to work with local elected officials to reduce the duplication and incongruities in several of the pending bills, and to provide fact-based discourse regarding concerns related to bills in Sacramento.