Sacramento – Standing in front of a giant, fourteen foot wind turbine on the steps of the State Capitol, environmental groups and state legislators called for passage of a bill that will triple California’s use of clean, renewable electricity. The prop, made by Environment California, is on a statewide tour traveling through cities from Sacramento to San Diego to bring attention to the 33% by 2020 renewable electricity standard policy moving through the state legislature.
“It is time for California to once again lead the country in renewable energy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “Tripling California’s renewable energy is key to reviving our economy, creating green jobs and solving global warming,”
There are two bills moving through the state legislature that would triple California’s renewable energy resources. SB 14, authored by Senator Simitian, and AB 64, authored by Assemblymember Krekorian, would both require utilities to generate a minimum of 33% renewable electricity by 2020. Such a policy is considered a cornerstone of California’s AB 32 global warming plan promising to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 21 million tons by 2020. It is also considered key to bringing green jobs to the state with estimates of 200,000 new jobs created as a result of the clean energy mandate.
“California should act sooner rather than later to increase the use of renewable energy,” said State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), author of SB 14. “Renewable energy provides an immediate response to the threat of global warming, cuts air pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign energy and helps to limit the threat of another energy crisis.”
Joining Environment California and state legislators was a coalition of environmental groups including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Clean Power Campaign, Coalition for Clean Air, California League of Conservation Voters and the Planning and Conservation League.
Environmentalists are concerned that opposition from utility companies has made passage of this renewable energy policy challenging. While there is no disagreement about the 33% by 2020 goal, utilities and others are pushing for amendments that environmentalists fear would weaken the bill significantly. For example, some are pushing for amendments that would change the definition of renewable energy to include trash incineration or large dams.
"If we're serious about addressing global warming and leading the country toward a clean energy economy, we must send a strong bill to the governor that gets the job done," said Dan Kalb, California Policy Manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "That means avoiding loopholes or vague off-ramps that could impede progress on renewables over the next decade."
California’s current law requires the state’s utilities to reach 20% renewable energy by 2010. The 33% by 2020 would represent roughly a tripling of renewable energy in ten years. Twenty five states and the District of Columbia have renewable electricity standards. A 33% by 2020 in California would be the strongest and largest in the country.
SB 14 and AB 64 are both to be voted on in the appropriations committees today.