What do Kelly Slater's pool and Erin Brockovich have in common?
HUGE NEWS! Slater’s wave pool is going to be 100% solar powered! Oh my gosh, so good for the environment. Everyone is covering the PR coup; Surfline, the inertia, other people… It’s the best thing to happen to Mother Earth since I stopped using plastic bags to pick up my dog’s shit and just started heaving it into the bushes.
Of course, the cynic in me asks, “How the hell can that be possible?”
Generating waves requires massive amounts of power and I have a hard time believing it’s financially feasible to build a gigantic solar array around every park they plan on opening.
So what’s going on? How is it possible?
Through the magic of words! The wave pool will be a participant in the PG&E Solar Choice program, wherein you pay extra for electricity and they promise all the power you receive, delivered through pre-existing infrastructure, comes from solar alone. Even more impressive than the solar program is the ability to keep that new solar power separate from the dirty old kind made from burning coal, oil, or harvesting orphan tears. (That last one is a joke. If I could run my laptop off the suffering of unwanted children I’d be living in a magical world, indeed.)
Since electricity mixes freely once it enters the grid, there’s no way Kelly’s pool will actually run off solar alone. But Pacific Gas and Electric swears that paying extra will introduce an equivalent amount of solar power into the grid. So it’s six of one and half a dozen of another. And you can believe PG&E, they have a long tradition of trustworthy environmental stewardship.
Like in 1993, when they donated, via court order, $333 million, the largest direct action settlement in United States history, to residents of Hinkley, California after contaminating their groundwater with hexavelent chromium. How could they have known that storing toxic by-products in unlined pools would be bad for the environment? At least we got a Julia Roberts movie out of it.
Likewise the PG&E pipeline that exploded in 2010 in San Bruno, California, killing eight people. Sure, state inspectors had warned that the pipeline had faulty welds, and, yeah, PG&E subsequently increased pressure in the pipeline to meet demand, and yes, they were fined $1.6 billion in April of last year.
But they’re environmentalists now! If you pay them money they’ll provide marketing materials showing you are too!
Yay for capitalism! Yay for disingenuous marketing! Yay for getting in bed with bad actors in the quest for positive PR!