By Gennady Sheyner
A proposal by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to require California utilities to draw one third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 became state law Tuesday (April 12) when it received Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.
Simitian's bill, Senate Bill 2X, was signed into law in Milpitas, where Simitian, Brown and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu met to recognize the new SunPower solar-manufacturing plant, Simitian announced in a statement. The new law, he said, puts California in the "national forefront in its commitment to renewable energy."
"I'm gratified that the Governor has confirmed California's long-term commitment to clean green energy," Simitian said in the statement. "This bill establishes California as the national leader in the use and development of renewable energy.
"The new law will stimulate the economy and improve the environment, while protecting ratepayers from excessive costs."
The new law would apply to both public and investor-owned utilities. Before the bill was passed, investor-owned utilities such as PG&E and independent sellers were required to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 -- a standard that Simitian helped establish in 2006. The new bill also authorizes the California Public Utility Commission to give exemptions to utilities if the cost of purchasing renewable energy or plugging it into the state grid proves too great.
Simitian's previous attempt to raise the renewable-energy standards failed despite receiving the support of both houses of the Legislature. A similar proposal was vetoed in 2009 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In signing the bill Tuesday, Brown said in a statement that it would "ensure that California maintains its long-standing leadership in renewables and clean energy." Simitian agreed and touted the support his bill received from consumer advocates and utilities, including Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.
"Fossil fuels are finite and demand for energy is growing," Simitian said in the statement. "Fossil fuel prices are going to keep heading up. Renewable prices are headed down."