California Gets 33% Renewable Mandate Through Senate 26-11

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Second-time Governor Jerry Brown will have another chance to sign into law a second burst of renewable energy in California.

By a vote of 26-11 on party lines, the California Senate has just passed the legislation that would require private and public utilities in the state to get 33% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Like the previous attempts, it is authored by the excellent Palo Alto Democratic Senator Joe Simitian, who we all have to thank for writing the original 20% by 2010 mandate in 2006.

You might have assumed this 33% by 2020 bill is already law, for all the publicity it has gotten in each of the lurches it has taken towards passage, but till now, it never quite had. It came close in 2009, but then Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it, with minor quibbles over what qualifies as renewable, rather inexplicably, for such a reliably green Governor.

Last year, after going back to the drawing board and solving the Schwarzenegger issues, the legislature was not able to get it through in time, so the Air Resources Board “passed” a resolution that “approved” it, to shore up skittish investors who were in danger of abandoning the state, back when it looked like the massively oil-funded and Tea-Party-pushed Prop 23 could kill off California’s new and burgeoning green economy.

They did the right thing. It sent a market signal to energy providers that California truly is committed to renewables – but actually it is not theirs to pass. Bills go through the legislature, and get signed into law by the Governor.

But now we have Governor Brown back in office. He was the governor responsible for California’s solar and wind industries, way back in the age of bell bottoms. He signed into law the renewable policies that have eliminated waste from Californian energy use since the 1970s (we have half the carbon footprint of other Americans now).

With Senate passage of the bill early in the new session, to be sure it gets to Governor Brown’s desk this year – and a solid majority in the assembly (52 Democrats to 27 Republicans) where it goes next – pretty much guarantees a gubernatorial signature.

But just in case Jerry Brown has forgotten why we love us some renewable energy in California, Joe reminded everyone that the ambitious but doable target will:

  • Improve California’s air quality, bringing health benefits to Californians.
  • Address climate change by moving the eighth largest economy in the world to the forefront in action
  • Protect customers from rate manipulation by diversifying our sources of energy.
  • Allow for an American foreign policy based on American values and American interests, rather than energy needs.
  • Bring investment, jobs and tax revenues to California.

But you knew that.

Image: Bethany Villero
SUsan Kraemer@Twitter

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