Regulators Grant Lawrence Lab $150M

By Published On: December 21, 2012

The California Public Utilities Commission approved $150 million over five years to fund Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to engage its supercomputer to assist modeling cybersecurity, gas safety, and electricity system planning. The laboratory has computers “for national defense,” said commission president Mike Peevey. “We now have the opportunity to take the billions and billions of dollars for swords and turn them into plowshares,” he added. The commission Dec. 20 agreed to the spending despite a recent push by ratepayer advocates to block it. The Utility Reform Network calls the agreement another of Peevey’s “pet” projects. The consumer group’s attorney Bob Finkelstein called it “a potential waste of money” in the “mere hope that something of value will result.” The ratepayer investment is akin to the 2008 commission decision spearheaded by Peevey for $600 million to create a University of California, Berkeley, Institute for Climate Solutions (Current, April 11, 2008). In a unanimous vote, with commissioner Mike Florio reluctantly voting in favor of the funding, regulators agreed that the use of supercomputer methodology could attain an estimated $550 million in savings in state infrastructure in the long run.

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