Renewable energy bill far from perfect, experts say
With one week until California’s Legislature closes shop for the year, lawmakers are scrambling to pass an ambitious climate and energy plan. At stake are several top priorities for Gov. Jerry Brown: a 50 percent cut in oil use, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings, and a 50 percent clean energy mandate.
Some version of the bill will almost certainly pass, despite aggressive opposition from the oil industry and objections from centrist Democrats. There has been little formidable opposition to the clean energy mandate, which is expected to jump-start solar and wind development in the desert and across the state.
But for some clean energy experts, the bill leaves a lot to be desired.
Critics say the bill doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy sources that can generate electricity around the clock, including geothermal, biomass and solar with storage. Adding those kinds of power sources to the mix, they say, is needed to keep electricity costs down for homes and businesses, while limiting the carbon pollution responsible for climate change.
“Sometimes the legislative process takes a while to catch up to new information and new developments,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a trade group. “The governor has not done a really good job of articulating much more than the big picture.”
Even those critics overwhelmingly support SB 350, formally known as the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act. They’re confident that California will eventually diversify its clean energy sources, rather than continuing to focus almost exclusively on traditional solar farms and wind turbines, which can’t provide power around the clock.