<i>By V. John White Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies executive director<\/i> The enactment of the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974 set the stage for California to develop a new, environmentally and economically sustainable energy policy. Governor Jerry Brown made energy a cornerstone of his administration and put enormous personal effort into crafting and executing fundamental change in the state?s energy future. He created an Office of Appropriate Technology and sponsored significant investment in alternative energy technologies, such as biomass, solar, and wind, along with the nation?s first significant investment in alternative fuels such as methanol and compressed natural gas. With his appointees directing the new California Energy Commission, California became a global leader in efficiency standards for new buildings and appliances. His Investing for Prosperity program provided tens of millions of dollars to rehabilitate and enhance California?s natural resources. With the strong support of legislative leaders such as Vic Calvo, Gary Hart, Charles Warren, and Leo McCarthy, Brown?s administration dramatically reduced the growth in electricity demand and turned California away from nuclear power. The alternative path chosen by these farsighted leaders included significant investment in cogeneration and geothermal energy and gave birth to today?s global solar and wind energy industries. We still have much work to do in achieving the vision and wisdom reflected in the careers of these dedicated public servants. California?s decision to end the expansion of nuclear power was a difficult and controversial one. The policy was forged in the spring of 1976, when a citizen initiative to stop building new nuclear plants and phase out the existing ones qualified for that year?s June ballot. Governor Brown and legislative leaders negotiated a compromise with the utilities, which called for completion of the plants already licensed and then a moratorium until the Energy Commission found that the technology to safely dispose of nuclear waste was feasible and available. The initiative was defeated by a significant margin, but the state?s new nuclear laws remained. The CEC held extensive hearings and consulted economic and technology experts, and determined there was no technology available to dispose of nuclear waste safely. Under the law, no new nuclear plants could be licensed in California. San Diego Gas & Electric sponsored a bill by Senator Al Alquist and Assemblymember Alister McAlister to exempt the proposed Sundesert nuclear plant, near Blythe, from the just-enacted nuclear laws. (Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, both under construction, had been grandfathered in). The bill was stalled in Calvo?s Assembly Resources, Land Use and Energy Committee. Calvo developed a compromise to have the CEC do a study of the available alternatives to building the Sundesert plant. The bill was amended to require that the study be completed within six months. The CEC, with the strong support of Governor Brown and his staff, studied the alternatives to the nuclear plant and decided that a combination of energy efficiency, cogeneration, and renewable resources could meet the need. This recommendation was extremely controversial and led to the introduction of a bill by Alquist to exempt Sundesert from the nuclear moratorium. The bill passed the Senate but was killed in Calvo?s committee, earning him a reputation as a strong supporter of Brown?s energy policy. At the time, that distinction wasn?t as appreciated as it is today. The utility industry and its allies in the business community were outraged by the decision to kill Sundesert. Yet several years later there was a consensus that if the plant had gone forward, its high cost could have led to SDG&E?s bankruptcy. The controversy lingered, and following the divisive debate on Sundesert, utilities and the business community launched a new campaign to abolish the Energy Commission and replace the independent commissioners with a department in the executive branch. Leading that campaign were Mike Peevey, then president of the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance, and Bill Hauck, then a consultant and now the head of the California Business Roundtable and a member of Governor Schwarzenegger?s California Performance Review Advisory Committee. Again, Calvo and his committee were the focal point for the debate, which took place under the auspices of a joint committee chaired by Calvo and staffed by a former Alquist staffer, Bob Foster (now Southern California Edison president). The committee produced a divided recommendation?a bill to abolish the CEC and create a Department of Energy. Calvo voted against the bill, but it got out of his committee, only to die in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. The deciding vote was from a Republican Assembly freshman named Chuck Imbrecht, who later became the chair of the CEC after losing a closely fought campaign for state Senate against Gary Hart. With the constraints of stronger air pollution regulations through a California Air Resources Board rejuvenated by Brown appointee Tom Quinn, and no new nuclear plants, Governor Brown and his allies were faced with how to move forward on efficiency and alternative energy to supply needed new power supplies. The Warren-Alquist Act, which was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan, authorized the CEC to adopt efficiency standards for new homes, buildings, and appliances. At the California Public Utilities Commission, members John Bryson and Calvo created the first major efforts by the investor-owned utilities to invest in energy efficiency. Combined with the federal tax credit put in place by President Jimmy Carter, and then the long-term utility power-purchase contracts mandated by the CPUC in response to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, legislation by Hart offering a 55 percent tax credit for solar and wind installation is widely seen as having helped launch the modern solar and wind energy industries. The new investment spawned by the bill helped make California, for a time, the world leader in solar and wind energy. Unfortunately, that leadership role diminished in the 1980s, though we hope we are on our way to a new golden age. But without Hart?s leadership, solar and wind energy would not be where it is today. Calvo?s legislation, developed in the aftermath of the fight over the Sundesert plant, played a very significant role in the expansion of cogeneration, which took place in the early 1980s. As a result, the air-quality impacts and efficiency of California?s electricity system were significantly improved. At the CPUC, Bryson helped usher in the independent power industry, now known as the qualifying facilities (QFs), which have played such an important role in developing California?s global leadership in cogeneration and renewable resources, including wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar technologies. Brown and his administration led the way in changing the direction of California?s energy policy through farsighted regulatory policies and investment initiatives. State government set the example with green buildings and independent power generation by state agencies. The pace and fate of energy policy were also altered by the state?s fostering partnerships with innovative technology developers and community-based organizations. At the time, Governor Brown was ridiculed by some and questioned by many. But history has proved him to have been a visionary thinker and extraordinarily important political leader who saw the importance of changing the state?s energy policy and its future in ways that protect the environment, save utility customers money, and make our state?s energy economy stronger, safer, and healthier for its citizens and for the planet we all share.