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Green Building News

California Governor Ups Renewables Commitment

The governor wants the state to get half of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 and make buildings and vehicles more efficient

California's commitment to renewable energy would grow appreciably under a plan advanced by Gov. Jerry Brown. These wind turbines are in the state's Tehachapi Mountains.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Already committed to producing 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, California’s governor announced a new goal of 50 percent renewable power by the year 2030.

Governor Jerry Brown said during his inaugural address that the new target was “exciting” and “bold” and essential in averting potentially catastrophic climate changes, but he didn’t offer any specifics on how it might be accomplished, The Los Angeles Times reported.

At the same time, Brown called for doubling the energy efficiency of new buildings in California, and for a 50 percent cut in the amount of gasoline and diesel used in cars and trucks.

Brown’s new goal is a ‘game-changer’

California utilities are so far along toward the 33 percent goal for renewables they haven’t been eager to sign contracts that would spur the development of new solar and wind facilities. But Brown’s announcement probably will bring on a fresh round of development for renewables, according to one industry insider.

“Fifty percent is a game-changer,” said Jerry R. Bloom, who helps energy developers with permitting and financing.

John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, told the newspaper that getting more renewably sourced energy to mesh with the utility grid smoothly will be a greater challenge than generating the power.

At the moment, California is third in the country in wind power production, and first in installed solar. The Obama administration has earmarked 22 million acres in California for renewable energy and pledged to generate 20,000 megawatts of power on federal land by 2020, The Times said.

Progress to date is ‘impressive’ but not enough

Greentech Media said that while Brown didn’t spell out the specifics of how he would achieve his new energy goals, he did list initiatives he would support. They included more distributed power and rooftop photovoltaic systems, battery storage, the “full integration of information technology and electrical distribution” and more electric vehicles.

The state has made a good deal of progress toward meeting greenhouse gas reductions approved by lawmakers in 2006, Brown said, but it won’t be enough to limit global warming to 2 C° by 2050, Greentech Media said.

“If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way,” Brown said. “We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being. All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.”

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