Guest JUICE: A New Blueprint for California’s Clean Energy Goals

By Published On: June 28, 2013

By Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez Southern California currently faces a substantial need for new sources of electricity to replace the retired San Onofre nuclear plant, in addition to the closure of old and inefficient natural gas power plants on the coast that are scheduled to be retired over the next several years. Rather than building new natural gas plants that will undoubtedly exacerbate adverse air quality impacts to the region, I believe California should instead rely on a mix of clean energy resources: Renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, demand response, and limited and flexible back-up power to help meet the need. That is why I introduced AB 177, which would require the state of California to focus its clean energy goals into a coherent statewide energy policy for keeping the lights on for California consumers at the most affordable rates. AB 177 proposes that half of the state’s electricity needs be met by clean energy sources by 2030. That is above the current goal of 33 percent by 2020, which we are already on track to not only meet but to exceed. AB 177 tells utilities and regulators that, while they have done well to meet the first hurdle, California can and should do much better. This higher goal would go beyond the low-hanging fruit of coastal wind farms and solar panels in the cities. It would grow business and jobs with clean energy investment in different parts of the state, including the Coachella and Imperial Valleys and other high-value renewable resource regions in California, such as the Tehachapi high-desert wind region or the West Mojave solar resource. These are communities that have been left behind in California’s economic recovery. Rural California counties have much higher unemployment and lower average incomes than our coastal counties. One study, for example, estimates that the Salton Sea area could produce enough renewable energy to power 6.5 million homes, generating over $5.3 billion annually for the local economy. California pioneered the clean energy economy, and utility customers deserve the fruits of their investment – the cleanest, most affordable energy possible. If enacted, AB 177 would create a demand for clean energy—baseload and intermittent—increase job creation by attracting private investment and clean technology firms to different parts of the state, including the Coachella and Imperial Valleys, improve regional and local air quality, and reduce California’s carbon footprint. We lose a tremendous opportunity if we do not prioritize the development of renewable resources at the Salton Sea and other rural California renewable resources. —Manuel Pérez is the state Assemblymember for eastern Riverside and Imperial Counties. He’s authored several bills to facilitate responsible renewable energy development in the desert region. Edited by:

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