Energy & Climate ‘Big Ideas’ from Governor Brown’s Fourth Term

by | Jan 21, 2015

costantino, jon, manatt 2Governor Brown was sworn into office earlier this month and gave his fourth inaugural address, which also doubled as his State of the State (a rare double feature). Though he touched on a variety of other proposals, the Governor kept his laser focused on climate and energy issues. He proposed three carefully worded, but ambitious, goals for California to accomplish within the next 15 years:

  • Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources
  • Reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent
  • Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner

Together with his 2015-16 budget proposal, which was released a few days later and includes the largest dollar value to date of Cap and Trade revenues to be expended, over a billion dollars, due to this year’s inclusion of transportation fuels in the program, there will be plenty to digest and debate in Sacramento this legislative session.

Governor Brown also vowed to continue a host of the state’s most progressive energy policies, which include expanding distributed generation, rooftop solar, microgrids, energy storage and electric vehicles. He also called on the broader minds (think Silicon Valley and Academia) within California to make it all work. He said, “It will require enormous innovation, research and investment. And we will need active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels.”

“Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels,” he said. “This is exciting. It is bold, and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.”

This sounds like a leader who just doubled down on this policy area.

Raising the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has been widely anticipated in California, which is on track to meet its current target of 33 percent. The 50 percent renewable number, though it isn’t presented as an RPS increase, surprised many, as it seems to be the choice over the alternative being discussed, a new low-carbon “Clean Energy Standard.”

Equally aggressive is the state goal of up to 50 percent reduction in petroleum use. The California Air Resources Board simultaneously put out a road map on how to achieve this standard. With the biggest programs to date only getting the state less than half of the way to the stated goal, there is a lot left to be done.

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