Governor Brown Ups the Ante for California Renewable Energy

Citing the need to stop “potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system,” California Gov. Jerry Brown has set a high bar for the year 2030—by then, the state should have raised its Renewable Portfolio standard by 50 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The governor also seeks to cut automobile petroleum use in half and double the energy efficiency of new buildings in the state, the newspaper reports. The energy goals eclipse the previously stated benchmark of 33 percent by 2020. Because utilities have already been on track to meet that goal, they’ve been reluctant to sign new deals with big wind and solar players.

Now that Brown has upped the bar, there are a few ways the sentiment could be codified.  The first would be an executive order. The second would be a bill likely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, the Times reports.

Nevertheless, technical obstacles remain. The intermittent nature of wind and solar energy production make it more difficult to align supply and demand, and efficient power storage remains an issue as well.

Writing on, the author Peter Asmus points out that the state’s complex bureaucracy is also a potential impediment, though Brown has appointed a solid candidate for handling that job. Newly appointed Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker will largely oversee the execution of Brown’s articulated vision. The commission is authorized to mandate compliance from the state’s three big utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric, according to the Times, though that enforcement wouldn’t extend to large municipal companies.

“Picker has the ability to manage expectations on issues ranging from hazardous waste to large-scale renewable developments in sensitive environments such as deserts,” Asmus writes. “There is every reason to expect those skills will serve California well.”

Tags: Policy

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