Dr. Snarky Sparks has popped open the bottle?no, not because all the visiting relatives have finally gone home, but because the Legislature's torture chamber is about to close for the summer, the traffic can only get less packed, and she feels better about imbibing now that renewables are involved. The key cheerleader for the Million Solar Roofs bill suffered a hangover after the Dems altered the measure to keep some unions happy. A pouting Arnie said he's taking his solar orb home and won't play anymore with those guys and gals wearing tool belts and union bugs on their hard hats. The governor's threat to veto his own legislation came near the time the group California Environment was spotted traipsing up and down the state with a 17-foot-tall power cord accompanied by a banner that read, "Plug into the Sun." From what the doctor can tell, the vehicle carting the cord was plugged into neither the sun nor any renewable source. The display was followed by calls to commuters to blast their car horns while heading home in support of the wobbling bill. Not surprisingly, the extension cord and the "Honk-4-Solar" campaign didn't generate media hiccups. Snarky's advice to the tireless defender of the let-the-soleil-shine bill: Annoyed drivers on simmering asphalt don't translate into votes or lobbyist funds, and that's what this lunacy undercutting the precedent-setting energy policy is all about. (Is lunacy the antisolar? The coup de soleil? I'll have to ask Dr. Shrinky about that.) Elsewhere, toasts to fermentation were in full display. Popping a bottle cap for alternative power, the governor was recently the guest of honor at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The Chico brewery, whose founders' roots date back to the Dr.'s days partying?er, studying?at Chico State, installed fuel cells to power its brewery. Unlike the governor and the small crowd in attendance last month, the 1 MW plant is juiced by hydrogen extracted from natural gas. It is reportedly the biggest installation of its kind in the state. With his beer stein well filled, our state chief said that the hydrogen-powered fuel cells "are good for the bottom line." The plant is expected to save the brewing company $400,000 a year. However, PG&E ratepayers are on the hook for a $2.4 million contribution. If she wasn't worried about the impact to their bottoms and bellies, Dr. Snarky would insist that free six-packs to PG&E customers be part of the deal. What she strongly recommends in their place, however, are steady deliveries of all that hydrogen-powered beer, along with boats, buckets, and megabucks, to help ease the suffering of Katrina's victims. The goddess of fermentation also made a cameo appearance at the California Energy Commission. The commission approved a contract extension to major wine producer Winesecrets to allow it more time to monitor the performance of a large stationary electrodialysis unit. Now, wouldn't you think the commissioners might have gotten a little suspicious about the delay and checked the color of the unit's operators' noses? At the very least, they should have made the amendment contingent on a monitored and enforceable sipping prohibition. Perhaps the advertising agency was riffing on a variation of a "snowball's chance in hell." To encourage a bunch of small businesses to conserve power on hot days, Edison sent them snowball-sized devices that glow brighter as the grid loads grows heavier. These little doozies, known as Energy Orbs, are like the Homeland Insecurity color-coded terrorist alerts. Red means turn off the switch before it's lights out, orange means forget those ice cubes in the mint julep, and a soothing blue means all is fine on the grid front. "You can try to scare them. You can try to bribe them. This is a fun way we can engage customers with a little bit of novelty," Edison's Mark Martinez told the <i>L.A. Daily News<\/i>. Let Edison president Bob Foster supply the magnum bottles. He's retiring to pursue the calm waters of local politics. Foster plans to run for mayor of the city of Long Beach. And the utility is sending him off with a golden parachute. Foster will continue to get his present salary. He will be retained as a consultant for three years, at the measly monthly rate of $25,000, plus $400 for every hour he works over 700 hours. That hourly rate doesn't look so bad when you consider what many big-firm lawyers and accountants reap-in the absurd $700\/hour range. Foster will also continue to receive bonuses, health care and life insurance coverage, and other employee benefits. Back in Sacramento, the appointed chair of the California Air Resources Control Board, Cindy Tuck, could use a six-pack of hydrogen-powered beer. The Senate declined to confirm her to the post September 1. Environmentalists highlighted Tuck's lobbying for the California Council for Economic and Environmental Balance, a group that fought greenhouse gas limits and power plant pollution upgrades. Tuck reportedly told legislators that she wants to clean up the environment.