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April 7-9, 2008


Greening the Golden State, cont'd...

A few days in advance of signing the landmark greenhouse gas reduction measure. the governor signed a package of related bills, specifically SB107, which requires investor owned utilities to have 20 percent of their electricity come from renewable sources by 2010 – pushing up the deadline from 2017. AB1925 requires the California Energy Commission to make recommendations for capturing and storing industrial carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.  Lastly, SB1686 takes forestlands into account as valuable to the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases.


California is already the nation’s most energy-efficient state. Despite its size and continued growth, it is the only state in the U.S. where energy demand has remained flat. However, even this accomplishment is not enough to ensure the state’s energy security and meet the needs of a growing number of consumers and businesses.

Since the rolling blackouts of 2001, nearly 20,000 California homes, businesses and schools have installed solar panels, increasing solar power in the state by 5,900 percent. After three years of work by the Governor and the legislature, the groundbreaking “Million Solar Roofs” bill, SB 1, was signed into law on August 21. It complements the California Solar Initiative established by the CPUC earlier this year, a $3.2 billion program designed to provide rebates to a million homeowners, businesses, schools and government buildings. SB 1 puts the state on track toward building a million solar roofs in the next ten years by allowing consumers to get a credit on their electric bill for excess power generated by their solar systems. It also mandates that solar panels become a standard option for all new homebuyers. The CEC can determine if and when solar power could be mandated in new construction.

During the past few years, California has added 5,000 megawatts of new, more efficient and cleaner power plants, the largest increase in nearly a decade. Twelve new power plants have opened since 2003, with 11 CEC-approved projects under construction or ready to start, totaling 7,643 megawatts of power.

By 2010, the state will be acquiring 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and 33 percent by 2020. (At present, the state is currently acquiring 13.7 percent from renewable sources.)

Energy and green building initiatives coalesce, with the Governor’s Green Building Initiative mandating a reduction in energy consumption by 20 percent at major state-owned facilities. To that end, the DGS is overseeing the installation of solar photovoltaic systems at seven sites statewide. They will generate approximately 3.2 megawatts of on-site electrical power.

To develop additional sources, the state is exploring fuel cell technology and evaluating other cutting edge, clean and renewable power generation technologies.

Green: It’s in the Air

The prospects of success for the programs that have been set in motion in California are increased by several factors, including a re-thinking of the role of business in sustaining the environment. This new thinking is expressed in a growing number of widely-read books including The Ecology of Commerce, Cradle to Cradle and Natural Capitalism. There is also a growing sense in the investment community that green technology is the next “big thing.” Many of the California-based investors and engineers who fueled the IT explosion are lining up to keep the state at the center of the action for the new wave of innovation.

Governor Schwarzenegger is well aware of the possibilities. "People always say you can't be pro-business and pro-environment, but they are dead wrong,” he says. “You can do both and we're proving it every day in California."

The Golden State’s green aspirations are not new, but they have been given new intensity and focus. The Governor has laid down the gauntlet, challenging everyone who works within state and local government, and all those who live here or who provide products, services and consulting to meet and beat the expectations of his initiatives.

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Green Milestone:
California Department of Education

Photo: Erhard Pfeifer.
Courtesy of Fentress
Bradburn Architects



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