When Governor Jerry Brown put his signature on Senate Bill 2X April 12, California became No. 1 in the nation in its commitment to renewable energy.
SB 2X, introduced by state Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, requires all electricity retailers in California, whether privately owned or municipal, to get at least 33 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 2020. Previous legislation called for privately owned utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources, a goal analysts say should be achieved by 2012.
The bill was backed by many environment, labor and health organizations, and clean energy businesses. Supporters include the California Apollo Alliance, the American Lung Association of California, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Pan Ethnic Health Network and the Sierra Club.
In a statement, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) energy analyst Laura Wisland called the bill "not just a victory for California's economy and environment, but for the whole nation." UCS estimates that with the 33 percent law in place, California will account for over a quarter of renewable energy generated by state standards in 2020. Wisland urged the federal government to follow California's lead.
The labor-business-environment Apollo Alliance emphasized renewable energy's job-creating potential. Noting that California already leads the nation in the number of clean energy jobs, business and patents, the Alliance said the new law "will spur billions of new dollars of investment in clean energy and infrastructure projects that help create jobs in a state where clean-tech is already the fastest growing sector of the economy."
The measure also got high marks from The Utilities Reform Network, which advocates for and assists utility customers. Writing on TURN's web site, staff attorney Matt Freedman said he was glad to see the bill signed into law after "years of obstruction" from Brown's predecessor, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a similar bill in 2009 and threatened to veto one last year.
"While proclaiming himself the Green Governor to audiences around the world, Schwarzenegger systematically blocked meaningful environmental progress here at home," he said. "California is going to be much greener without him standing in the way of progress."
Photo: Solar power plant in the Mojave Desert. CC by 2.0