Tag Archives: Governor Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown’s carbon-free legacy to require financial sacrifices

By Dan Walters, CalMatters

Jerry Brown publicly denies harboring thoughts of the legacy of his record 16 years as California’s governor.

When a reporter asked Brown about it in January, Brown replied, with a characteristic smirk, “Can you tell me the legacy of Goodwin Knight? Or Gov. (Frank) Merriam? Or (George) Deukmejian? Governors don’t have legacies. That’s my No. 1 proposition.”

Brown pointedly excluded his father, Pat Brown, from his list of legacy-bereft predecessors. And it’s quite obvious that Brown yearns to match his father by being remembered as the governor who made California — at least in his mind — a global leader in fighting climate change through reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045.

Just before hosting a global climate-change conference in San Francisco last week, Brown signed a bill decreeing that California’s electrical energy will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045. Simultaneously, he issued an executive order that California be “carbon neutral” by the same date.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond,” Brown declared, referring to the international climate agreement. “It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 100 by state Sen. (and U.S. Senate candidate) Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, expands the current 2030 goal for electric power of 60 percent. Both pieces of state paper, however, are more statements of lofty intent than quantifiable policy.

Read full opinion article by Dan Walters

 

At Paris climate talks, nations will look to California

By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun

California has long led the world in tackling climate change. Now, Golden State leaders hope the rest of the world will follow their lead.

Negotiators from more than 190 countries will gather in Paris two weeks from Monday, in a last-ditch effort to strike a deal that averts catastrophic levels of global warming. Gov. Jerry Brown plans to lead a delegation of eight lawmakers, and they’ll be joined by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, and many other environmental advocates who want to see world leaders draw inspiration from California.

California isn’t a country, but for the purposes of Paris it might as well be. It’s the world’s eighth-largest economy, and the federal government often adopts the state’s ambitious environmental policies. Brown’s administration has worked with national and regional governments in Canada, Mexico, China and elsewhere on programs to slash carbon emissions. The governor has made it clear he wants California to play a prominent role in Paris. “The real source of climate action has to come from states and provinces,” Brown said earlier this year at a climate summit in Toronto. “This is a call to arms. We’re going to build up such a drumbeat that our national counterparts — they’re going to listen.”

When Brown and others arrive in Paris, they’ll have quite a story to tell. California now gets a quarter of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, a figure expected to double by 2030. Californians use the same amount of energy today as they did in the 1970s, even as per-person energy use has spiked across most of the country. Policies to discourage gasoline consumption have led to cleaner fuels and helped put more than 150,000 electric vehicles on the road, a number that is growing quickly.

While California’s climate efforts are by no means perfect, world leaders can learn a lot from the state’s multi-pronged approach to global warming, policy and legal experts say. The key lesson, they say, is that the state has acted on climate without inflicting economic disaster. The state has outpaced the rest of the country in job growth and GDP growth since the height of the Great Recession, even as carbon pollution has fallen.

The Desert Sun interviewed nearly a dozen lawmakers, academics, activists and researchers about what California is doing to address climate change. Here’s a primer on what they think the nations of the world should — and shouldn’t — learn from the Golden State…[Read More]

Read full article in the Desert Sun

Brown signs climate law mandating 50% renewable power by 2030

By David R. Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle

By the end of 2030, half of California’s electricity will come from the wind, the sun and other renewable sources under a new law that sets one of the country’s most ambitious clean-energy targets. The legislation, SB 350, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, accelerates California’s shift away from fossil fuels as its dominant source of energy and marks another milestone in the state’s fight against climate change.

The law expands a transformation already well under way. For more than a decade, California has required its electrical utility companies to use more renewable power, with the Legislature repeatedly raising the goal. The requirement led to a construction boom for solar power plants and wind farms. But the activity slowed in recent years as developers waited to see whether the Legislature would once again set a higher target. The new law eases that uncertainty, ensuring that California remains a major market for companies that design and build renewable power facilities.

While some business groups have complained that California’s aggressive climate and energy policies could burden local companies with higher costs, the same policies have helped create a thriving clean-technology industry in the state. Supporters of the new law say it sends those companies a signal that the state won’t back off its goals.

Read full article in the San Francisco Chronicle

California Passes a Bill Targeting 50% Renewables by 2030

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media
September 12, 2015

In the final hours of the legislative session, California lawmakers passed a landmark climate bill that will promote greater deployment of clean energy technologies over the next 15 years, but which some supporters say still fell short of expectations.

SB 350 will increase building energy efficiency in the state by 50 percent by 2030. It will also boost the amount of renewable energy utilities need to buy to 50 percent by 2030. The third major component of the bill — a target to reduce oil use in cars and trucks by 50 percent over the next 15 years — was struck down earlier in the week. In addition, to the dismay of both solar companies and utilities, SB 350 does not specify that distributed solar arrays count toward the mandatory component of the renewable energy target.

SB 350 is one of 12 climate bills that have been working their way through the California state legislature.  A separate bill (SB 32) that would have required California to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 failed to pass in the Assembly, despite strong support from the governor, as well as from U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

With the state’s legislative session now over, clean energy advocates are focusing their attention on the California Public Utilities Commission. California’s three investor-owned utilities have filed proposals to reduce compensation for net-metered solar customers, and add monthly charges for the electricity these customers consume. Under a 2013 law (AB 327), the CPUC has until the end of the year to create a successor “NEM 2.0” tariff. Solar advocates, including the state’s leading cleantech investors, are pushing for regulators to keep solar incentives the same through 2020.

Read full article from Greentech Media

Half Of California’s Electricity Will Come From Renewable Energy In 15 Years

By Ryan Koronowski, ThinkProgress.org

Late Friday night, the California State Assembly voted 51-26 to pass SB 350, a landmark bill that would boost renewable energy and make buildings twice as efficient as before. The legislature sent the bill to California Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature, and he is expected to sign it later this month, as the legislation makes real the goals Brown set down earlier this year in his inaugural address.

The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) currently requires utilities to provide 33 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, by 2020. SB 350, The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, increases that target to 50 percent by 2030. It also requires a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year.

Brown also issued an executive order in January that aims to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — a big step to the larger 2050 goal of reducing GHGs by 80 percent under 1990 levels. This legislation accelerates the pace to that target.

Read full article from ThinkProgress.org

California-Mexico Partnership Addresses Climate Change

A recent trade mission between California and Mexico has helped strengthen partnership efforts to accelerate clean energy investment and combat climate change at the regional level. Leaders from the California Energy Commission, Stanford University, the University of California, and California businesses met with the Mexican Ministry of Energy and key representatives from the nation’s energy sector, governmental agencies, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

During the visit, there was an announcement of the intent to reach an agreement between SunPower, a global leader in solar technology solutions headquartered in California, and the Innovation and Technology Transfer Institute of Nuevo Leon to promote innovation in solar energy deployment and performance in Mexico. This collaboration would include Stanford University and the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM) to establish a California-Mexico co-innovation program on solar energy and its large-scale integration to the Mexican grid. The program aims to develop local capacity on applied research and development in solar energy, while fostering entrepreneurial activities at ITESM.

This California delegation builds on momentum from the 2014 agreement signed by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Mexican Secretary of Energy, Pedro Joaquin Coldwell establishing a working partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

Read full press release from the California Energy Commission

Renewable energy bill far from perfect, experts say

By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun

With one week until California’s Legislature closes shop for the year, lawmakers are scrambling to pass an ambitious climate and energy plan. At stake are several top priorities for Gov. Jerry Brown: a 50 percent cut in oil use, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings, and a 50 percent clean energy mandate.  Some version of the bill will almost certainly pass, despite opposition from the oil industry and centrist Democrats.

There has been little formidable opposition to the clean energy mandate, which is expected to jump-start solar and wind development in the desert and across the state. But for some clean energy experts, the bill leaves a lot to be desired. Critics say the bill doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy sources that can generate electricity around the clock, including geothermal, biomass and solar with storage. They say adding those kinds of power sources to the mix—rather than continuing to focus almost exclusively on traditional solar farms and wind turbines, which can’t provide power around the clock—is needed to keep electricity costs down for homes and businesses, while limiting the carbon pollution. Anything could change before next Friday. But for now, some critics see the bill as a missed opportunity to limit global warming while keeping electricity costs as low as possible.

Building more clean energy will almost certainly lead to higher electricity prices, but the exact costs of transitioning to clean energy are still up in the air. Under California’s current renewable energy mandate—which requires utility companies to buy the cheapest power on the market—utilities have largely opted for traditional solar and wind farms, because they have the lowest up-front costs. Clean energy sources that provide electricity around the clock—like geothermal and solar with storage—typically have higher up-front costs. SB 350 mostly leaves that system in place, but it would instruct utility regulators to consider the benefits of round-the-clock clean energy sources, such as rooftop solar with storage.

Read full article in the Desert Sun

A BRIGHT QUARTER FOR SOLAR CALIFORNIA

In June, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released their US Solar Market Insight report for the first quarter of 2015. Their report and others from a variety of state and federal sources indicate the solar industry in California continues its impressive growth. The state remains above the national average in the rate of growth in residential and commercial solar capacity, and continues to contribute well over half the national utility capacity added. The US Energy Information Agency reports that last year California became the first state to obtain more than 5% of its electricity production from utility-scale solar power. While the glass appears more than half full, we must not become complacent as there are a number of long-term issues — warning clouds on the horizon — that we must face and resolve.

First quarter residential additions reportedly totaled 231 MW; that is enough to power an additional 60,000 homes with solar energy. This added capacity is 78% larger than the capacity added during the same time last year — a year-over-year growth not even dreamed of in most industries. And for the naysayers who claim this is all subsidized, the California Solar Initiative program has pretty much run its course so that over 80% of these installations occurred without need of state support.

Commercial or non-residential on-site (commonly rooftop) systems have experienced marked growth also, though at more modest volumes. The GTM Research/SEIA study identifies 88 MW added in the first quarter—small compared to residential activity, but still a healthy 42% increase over the 62 MW added in the first quarter of 2014. As with residential systems, these too are increasingly being installed on their economic merits without state subsidies.

Taken together, these 3-month additions bring the total residential and commercial capacity to over 3000 MW of Photovoltaics. When operating in full sun, these systems generate more kilowatt hours of electricity than the 2200 MW capacity of the state’s remaining nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon:  more than a nuclear power plant’s energy production on our rooftops with far less risk or controversy.

And speaking of power plants, utility scale PV is the third category of solar production. The 399 MW reportedly added was less than was added during the same quarter last year, but these numbers tend to be lumpy. Utility-scale additions often are tallied in chunks of various sizes, like the 550 MW Topaz and Desert Sun projects that were phased in during 2014. With 5400 MW installed at the end of 2014, and over 4500 MW planned for installation during the next few years, quarterly comparisons are less significant.

So in summary, past quarter growth has been strong and the market outlook is bright. Governor Brown announced in January (and the Assembly is considering) the goal to obtain half the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The 2016 goal of 25% has already been achieved; the 2020 goal of 33% appears achievable, maybe even sooner. These policies should serve to maintain efforts to expand renewable energy production.

Potential market expansion programs are imminent. The Green Tariff Shared Renewables program should expand the PV market to include renters and single family homeowners whose homes don’t lend themselves to on-site generation (due to structural, shading and other site-specific constraints). The state’s three large investor-owned utilities will be rolling out programs to provide renewably-sourced electricity to customers later this year. In parallel with this, cities and counties are assessing the benefits to residents of Community Choice Aggregation programs where-by they can source the electricity for resale to their residents. If priced and operated in a manner appealing to the untapped market, these programs could expand the potential number of households that source their electricity from solar sources by at least fourfold.

But there are competing perspectives to be balanced as the state moves forward, and not all focus on the same single issue of carbon reduction. The question of rate-payer equity and possible subsidization of PV owners by other utility customers needs to be addressed. This struggle to identify an equitable means of Net Energy Metering is not unique to California, but it is critical for its potential to up-end the economic attractiveness of residential and commercial scale PV systems. Its importance to the continued expansion of solar energy use in California is emphasized by Bernadette Del Chiaro’s guest commentary elsewhere on this website.

And at the federal level, the reduction (commercial) or expiration (residential) of the 30% investment tax credit has the potential to depress demand not just in California but nationwide. Falling prices of PV systems may soften this effect, but its loss could still be damaging to both the industry and our climate.

Industry reports this past quarter were widely favorable, and the solar industry in California appears to be under the influence of the Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind always be at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

Though we are falling short of the soft rains! We need to deal quickly and effectively with the warning clouds on the horizon — lest the resulting rain be not as soft as either the traveler or we Californian’s desire.

Report: California’s 2030 Energy Goals Will Create $51 Billion in Annual Savings

A new report from Berkeley, Calif.-based Strategen Consulting says California Gov. Jerry Brown’s clean energy goals for 2030 are not only achievable and economically sound, but will generate significant job growth. The report, “Impact Analysis: Governor Brown’s 2030 Energy Goals,” finds that Brown’s plan to reach 50 percent renewables by 2030, which was announced in his inaugural address earlier this year, will create 1.2 million job-years in construction, manufacturing, sales, service and support related to California’s new domestic energy infrastructure, as well as through the economic activity resulting from energy savings.

California is already on track to generate 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Meeting the 50% renewables target set out for 2030 will require the continuation of solar and wind installations at similar rates for another 10 years, while adding complementary resources—such as energy storage—to assist with renewable resource integration.

The potential benefits to the state of meeting Brown’s clean energy goals identified in the report include:

  • $51 billion in annual savings from 2030 on.
  • CO2 emissions will be reduced by over 102 million tons per year, a reduction of 42% from 2015 levels.
  • 870,000 job-years created in the wind and solar sectors by 2030 – up from 44,700 today.
  • Enhanced grid efficiency, reliability and resiliency from renewable resources backed by energy storage.

Read full article from Solar Industry Magazine

Reality Check: Are California’s Carbon Emissions Goals Attainable?

By Sam Brock & Rachel Witte, NBC Bay Area

California Governor Jerry Brown announced last week a new plan for reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The executive order calls on the Golden State to decrease carbon emission rates by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.

The proposal will serve as an interim goal established by the governor as the state works toward reaching its target of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050. That’s the more long term plan laid out in Senate Bill 32, legislation introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) at the end of last year.

Has the governor set the bar too high, or is this simply an expression of his faith in California’s climate change policy?

Read full article from NBC Bay Area