Calif. Senate Calls for 1/3 of Energy from Renewables

John Davis

In a move that is already generating plenty of controversy (and I’m sure plenty of comments on this blog), the California State Senate has voted to require utilities in the state to get one-third of their energy from wind, solar and other renewables by the year 2020.

The Los Angeles Times reports the measure moves up the requirement from 20 percent and is bringing about backers and opponents:

“Right now we can begin to create the jobs that this state so desperately needs,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill’s author.

The measure passed 26 to 11. The vote split largely along party lines but with a few crossovers.

Opponents said it would drive up electricity bills for homeowners and manufacturers. The additional costs would convince California companies, which already pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation, to move their jobs out of state, said Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).

“This is yet another nail in the coffin for our manufacturing sector in California,'” Huff said.

There is no consensus on the measure’s true cost.

Simitian predicted a “modest short-term increase” in electricity bills, noting that his own utility in Sacramento offered to provide half his power from renewables for just $3 a month extra.

In a report two years ago, the California Public Utilities Commission said energy costs would probably go up 7.1% if a third of electricity came from renewable sources. A spokeswoman for the agency said Thursday that some renewable energy prices have since declined, so the increase would probably not be so high.

In addition, the state’s Public Utilities Commission says it might take $115 billion to put in the facilities to generate that much renewable energy. On the upside, it could create 100,000 to 200,000 new jobs. No word on whether Gov. Jerry Brown, who campaigned on the 33 percent target, will support the measure should it pass the state Assembly, as it is expected to do.

Government, Solar, Wind