California Passes New Energy Bill

Written by Judith Ceja
Apr 13, 2011 at 09:25 PM

The future of renewable energy is getting a boost from California’s newly passed energy bill. The bill which was introduced by Democratic Senator, Joe Simitian, increases the requirement that utilities have for generating a percentage of their energy from renewable power sources. The bill was passed by the Senate in February and was then passed by the House with a vote of 55 to 19. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to sign a previous version of the bill when he was governor, stating the details were too restrictive on the utilities. However, Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill since he advocated for raising the standard during his gubernatorial campaign.

Picture source: Fiona Shields

The bill will require utility companies to generate one-third of California’s electricity by utilizing renewable power sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by the end of 2020. This is a lofty goal since the state currently produces only 15-17% of its electricity from renewable sources. This means the state will have to double its current generation utilizing renewable sources within the next ten years. However, Senator Simitian believes renewable energy providers will rise to the challenge resulting in billions of dollars in investments which is expected to provide California with job growth and tax revenues.

The bill comes at a time when federal energy legislation has been delayed in Washington due to the recession. Since California is often seen as a leader in setting environmental standards for the rest of the country, there is hope that other states will follow California’s lead. In fact, many states have already taken action in an effort to jump start their own economy, by also requiring a percentage of their power be generated from renewable sources. However, that percentage is much lower than California’s current requirement and the recession has taken a toll on efforts to pursue these goals.

The current standard in California requires investor-owned utilities to produce 20% of their electricity utilizing renewable energy sources by the end of 2010. Unfortunately, none of the utilities was able to meet this requirement. However, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) came very close. PG&E obtained 17.7% of their energy from renewable sources while SCE just fell short of the requirement at 19.4%.

The economic downturn is cited as the reason renewable energy projects have stalled in recent years. Senator Smitian is hopeful that his bill will not only hasten the industry’s recovery process, but will revitalize California’s economy.

Last Updated ( Apr 13, 2011 at 09:51 PM )

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