California Initiates Carbon Fee on Polluting Industries – Nation’s First

by | Sep 28, 2009

renewableenergyCalifornia has approved the nation’s first carbon fee on polluting industries, as well as the country’s most aggressive energy plan. In a whirlwind of new environmental regulations, it also has adopted a regulation for more stringent controls of chemically-created consumer products such as air fresheners, paint thinners and multi-purpose solvents, and has proposed tighter restrictions on energy efficiency for televisions.

California Air Resources Board (ARB) regulators have passed the nation’s first  carbon fee on polluting industries, including utilities and oil refineries, reports AP. The fee will go into effect by the end of 2010 and raise $63.1 million annually during its first three years and level off at $36.2 million in the fifth year, according to the article.

California has claimed the nation’s most aggressive energy efficiency plan, slating $3.1 billion to retrofit homes and other programs that will save energy equivalent to three 500-megawatt power plants, avoid 3 million tons of green house gas (GHG) emissions, and create between 15,000 to 18,000 jobs, according to the California Public Utilities, reports Reuters.

The California Public Utilities Commission has established a three-year budget for utilities that is 42 percent higher than the previous plan, reports Reuters. Edison International’s unit Southern California Edison, PG&E Corp’s main unit Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric Co and its Southern California Gas Company will channel money into a dozen statewide programs and some smaller initiatives, according to the news agency.

As an example, the funds will kick off the largest residential retrofit effort in the United States, called CalSPREE, which aims to cut energy use by 20 percent for up to 130,000 homes in the state by 2012, according to Reuters.

This follows California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order earlier this month that the state get a third of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

To further cut energy use, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has proposed tighter restrictions on energy efficiency for televisions, reports The Collegian Online.

In a poll recently released by Californians for Smart Energy, researchers found that 57 percent of Californians oppose the CEC’s proposal requiring TVs to be at or below energy efficiency standards by the deadline in 2011, reports the California State University newspaper.

The Californians for Smart Energy Web site claims the regulation would cost the state more than $50 million and an estimated 4,600 jobs, reports The Collegian.

The CEC believes that the proposal will conserve enough electricity to power roughly one million single-family homes in California and will save consumers money in the long run, reports The Collegian.

CEC told the newspaper that there are already 850 models of TVs that meet the standards and believe that many more will be available by the deadline.

California has also recently adopted more stringent controls for chemically-created consumer products to reduce ozone and prevent emissions of airborne toxins.

The California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation for air fresheners, paint thinners and multi-purpose solvents that will eliminate more than 14 tons-per-day of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when fully implemented in 2014, and prohibits the use of several toxic air contaminants.

The new regulation, which will result in one of the state’s largest reductions of VOCs from consumer products, also sets a cap on the use of high global warming ingredients, according to the California Air Resources Board.

ARB officials expect the average increase cost to consumers to be about $1.50 per gallon of paint thinner.

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