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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  
June 24, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Phil Yost (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to require private and public utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 passed the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee today. Senate Bill 722, passed 9-2, would raise the renewable target from 20%, while providing the flexibility necessary to meet the higher standard.

“Renewable energy is a win-win-win for California,” said Simitian. “It will create jobs, protect our environment, and protect us from spiking energy costs. But to make that happen, we need to set the 33% number into law.”

Expanding the use of renewable energy in California would:
      —Improve air quality. Wind, solar, and hydropower create no air pollution.
      —Address climate change. Electricity generation accounts for 24 percent of California’s gross carbon dioxide emissions. Wind, solar and hydropower release no carbon dioxide.
      —Protect customers from rate manipulation by diversifying our sources of energy.
      —Allow for an American foreign policy based on American values and American interests, rather than energy needs.
      —Bring green investment, expertise and jobs to California.

Simitian noted that, “Senate Bill 722 does not require utilities to reach the goal at any cost, however. If the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) determines that no reasonably priced renewable energy is available, a utility will be permitted to postpone meeting the deadline.” 

“This bill is good for our environment and good for our economy,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “We can’t afford any more delays. Now is the time to pass this bill and for the Governor to sign it into law.”

Last year, Simitian’s previous Renewable Energy Portfolio bill (Senate Bill 14) was approved by both houses of the Legislature, but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. While the Governor has issued executive orders that set a goal of 33% renewables by 2020, Senate Bill 14 sought to put the 33% into law, because executive orders do not have the force of law and can be revoked by a subsequent governor. Simitian’s 2009 renewables legislation was supported by investor-owned utilities, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (the country’s largest public utility), labor groups, environmentalists, ratepayer advocates and renewable energy developers.

Simitian re-introduced the legislation as Senate Bill 722 this year, seeking common ground with the Governor on such issues as renewable energy credits and the definition of which renewable power counts toward the standard. “We continue to work with the Governor’s office this year to come up with a bill that provides an immediate response to the threat of global warming, cuts air pollution and grows the economy,” Simitian said.

Studies from the University of California Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability and The Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies indicate that upwards of 120,000 jobs could be created in California as a result of the bill.

“Increased use of renewable energy here in California has tremendous potential as an economic development tool. These are clean, green jobs that belong here in California,” said Simitian. 

Carl Guardino, President & CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group said, “We’re pleased to see Senator Simitian is still pushing for a real commitment to renewable energy use. A requirement for 33% renewable energy by 2020 is just the kind of market signal we need to spur investment and job creation here in the Valley.”

“Meeting our renewable energy targets will create much needed jobs in California and recharge the state’s economy,” said Peter Miller, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

California’s current renewable energy target, also authored by Simitian, requires that investor-owned utilities procure 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by December 31st of this year.  However, existing law caps the amount of renewable energy that the Public Utilities Commission can order a utility to buy or build at 20 percent. Senate Bill 722 changes the mandate to 33 percent and extends the date to reach it to 2020.

Recent reports from the PUC document the dramatic effect of setting a portfolio standard. In the first quarter of 2010, the PUC reported, the utilities “are contracting with renewable projects at an unprecedented rate.” The PUC expects utilities to provide 18% of their electricity from renewables in 2010, and 21% in 2011.  Simitian said that while he was, “pleased by the success of the 20% renewables standard” he authored in 2006, “it’s time to take the next step.”

For more information on Senate Bill 722, visit