California Clean Energy Law Sets High Bar

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Late last month we covered an ambitious clean energy bill in California that would require the state to obtain 33% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. At the time, the bill, which was written by State Senator Joe Simitian, had passed both the State Senate and the State Assembly but still needed to be signed by California Governor Jerry Brown.  Governor Brown has now signed the bill into law, indicating a victory for supporters of the higher renewable energy standard. However, the governor pointed out that bill has some issues that need to be addressed.

The bill (called SBX1-2) raises the bar for all of the state’s utilities. The previous goal of 20% only applied to investor-owned utilities and independent sellers. This new law holds public utilities responsible for reaching the 33% renewable energy goal as well.

Solar Millennium parabolic trough power plant

image via Solar Millennium

According to Governor Brown, though, the bill needs some smoothing out. In a letter written by the Governor to the members of the California State Senate, Brown points out that the bill contains some provisions that will create implementation difficulties or inefficiencies, particularly for regulatory agencies charged with the bill’s implementation. Brown called for swift action from the state’s legislature saying, “these provisions should be amended quickly. Therefore, while I am signing this bill today, I ask the Legislature to immediately begin work on additional legislation to correct these problems.”

Still, the governor was vocally supportive of the bill’s intention, saying that the 33% goal is “just a starting point – a floor, not a ceiling” and went on to urge the state to pursue even more far-reaching targets.

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