AB 32 Could Spur ‘Clean’ Energy Revenue

By Published On: October 14, 2011

California leads the nation in the clean energy industry with 129,900 jobs and $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, according to a report released by the California Air Resources Board Oct. 10. The report projects that total annual state clean energy industry revenue will reach $140 billion in 2020--almost a five-fold increase. Between now and then revenue growth is expected to be between 15 and 25 percent/year. California is a leader largely because of its environmental and energy policies. Key among them is California’s climate change law, AB 32, which seeks to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report by Environmental Business International, done under contract to the Air Board. California’s clean energy industry revenue in 2010 amounted to about 13 percent of total national revenue for clean energy businesses and about 3 percent of total global clean energy business revenue. Researchers looked at nine clean energy industry segments, including low carbon power, energy efficiency and demand response, energy storage, green buildings, carbon markets, climate change adaptation, carbon capture and storage, transportation, and consulting and research. California is particularly strong in some areas, for instance, garnering about 19 percent of the total U.S. revenue for low carbon power, 21 percent for energy storage, and 17 percent for green buildings. * * * * * In preparation for an Oct. 20 hearing to adopt final amendments to its planned carbon cap-and-trade program, the California Air Resources Board Oct. 10 released an adaptive management plan. The plan outlines a series of steps the Air Board plans to take to monitor the impact of the carbon emissions trading program on local air pollution levels around factories and power plants subject to the cap-and-trade program. It also outlines a monitoring plan for the impact of the program on forest habitat. That’s because the cap-and-trade program allows reforestation projects aimed at sequestering carbon in the atmosphere to offset emissions from power plants and other fossil fuel burning sources. The Air Board is concerned that reforestation could impact existing species in a negative way. Consequently, it plans to use the adaptive management plan to modify its cap-and-trade program rules should negative impacts on forests or air pollution levels materialize. * * * * * Cool roofs and paving can cut average urban temperatures by as much as 1 to 2 degrees Celsius, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the urban heat island effect, according to research presented Oct. 11 to the California Air Resources Board by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory engineer Dev Millstein. Photovoltaic panels, on the other hand, tend to cause heat islands when they are installed in open spaces--like the desert--because they absorb solar energy. Millstein made his presentation as part of the Air Board Chair’s Lecture Series. * * * * * As the California Public Utilities Commission considers how utilities should use proceeds they are set to receive from auctioning emissions rights under the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates backs returning 90 percent of the funds to utility customers as bill relief. Electricity rates under the cap-and-trade plan are expected to increase due to the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in generating power. Under the California Air Resources Board’s program, the state would grant emissions rights to utilities which would sell them to power generators that need to cover their emissions. DRA reckons utilities will get almost $1 billion from auctioning emissions rights in 2013. It wants about $900 million of that returned to ratepayers in a way that’s proportional to the increases in their bills due to cap-and-trade. DRA wants the other 10 percent--or about $100 million--to go into a fund that leverages private lending to help utility customers undertake energy efficiency upgrades on their homes and businesses.

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