Senator Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) knows that a renewable energy reality has a ways to go to match the alternative power rhetoric. \u201cWe can\u2019t meet our ambitious goals with existing practices and technology,\u201d Padilla, the new chair of the Senate Energy Utilities and Communications Committee, told Circuit. Growing the state\u2019s renewable resources and shrinking its carbon emissions requires a vastly improved infrastructure at the local and regional levels, he contends. That includes a wide range of upgrades, from improved solar energy project performance, implementation of efficient \u201csmart grid\u201d technologies, and making way for hybrid vehicles that can plug into power lines. Padilla did not provide his definition of smart grid--as it means different things to different people--but said examples include monitoring and being able to control energy use in homes and businesses, both in the building and remotely. The Los Angeles legislator supports paying set long-term prices to renewable energy developers to promote alternative power by providing financial security. What role these so-called feed-in tariffs will play to help increase energy independence and security remains to be seen. Another obstacle to making the electricity infrastructure cleaner and more efficient is the current financial crisis. However, the state must still \u201cforge ahead\u201d and \u201cnot abandon our goals.\u201d Padilla says he is forging ahead. The senator is one of the coauthors of a bill that would mandate that 33 percent of the state\u2019s power come from renewable resources by 2020. Legislation attempting to raise the renewable bar from 20 percent to 33 percent in the state failed in previous sessions. However, late last year the governor pronounced he\u2019d push for a one-third renewable standard, significantly increasing the odds of passage. At that time, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) promised to work to pass legislation implementing a one-third renewable energy mandate within the first 90 days of the new session (Circuit, Nov. 21, 2008). SB 14, also authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and Steinberg, was introduced at the end of last year. It mandates that 33 percent of state energy resources come from solar, wind, and other alternative resources by the end of the next decade. The Senate Energy Committee plans to hear the bill February 3 (see sidebar). Padilla also reintroduced a bill he authored last year to promote alternative power and create green energy jobs by requiring the development of smart grid plans. The current bill is SB 17. The legislation got little traction last year because few lawmakers understood it, he said. It wasn\u2019t until President-elect Barack Obama touted the need for a green power economy that Padilla\u2019s colleagues realized that green energy can advance economic and environmental health, the lawmaker said. Padilla said he plans to keep a close eye on Obama\u2019s efforts to strengthen the economy and environment through clean technology to make sure his legislation and the energy panel\u2019s work dovetail. Padilla\u2019s first exposure to the state energy market was when he sat on the Los Angeles city council, and regulated the Los Department of Water & Power. During his tenure, he pushed the city to adopt a one-fifth renewable energy standard by 2017 (Circuit, Dec. 5, 2008). Given his experience, it is not surprising that Padilla advocates maintaining municipal power agencies\u2019 independence. As far as he is concerned, independence does not equate with alleviating munis\u2019 responsibility to boost their levels of renewable power and energy efficiency and lighten the state\u2019s carbon footprint. \u201cThey absolutely should be held accountable in the collaboration of achieving these goals. The goals are the goals.\u201d The Senate Energy Committee chair plans to keep tabs on San Diego Gas & Electric\u2019s development of its $2 billion Sunrise Power link project. Padilla, Steinberg, and other legislators urged the California Public Utilities Commission unsuccessfully to require the massive new transmission line to connect to renewable resources. In the bigger scheme of things, Padilla is delighted with the significant presence of Californians in Washington D.C.--from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) as the new chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, to Steven Chu, the appointee to the Department of Energy Secretary post. A nagging question though is which corner deli he and Waxman will meet at.