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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
December 6, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011
Phil Yost (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) today introduced legislation to require private and public utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The bill would raise the renewable target from the current 20%, while providing the flexibility necessary to meet the higher standard.

“I’m reintroducing this bill (Senate Bill 23) on the first day of session because renewable energy is an across-the-board winner for California,” said Simitian. “It creates jobs, cleans up our environment, and protects us from spiking energy costs. But to make that happen, we need to set the 33% into law.”

Expanding the use of renewable energy in California would:
  —Bring green investment, expertise and jobs to California
  —Improve air quality.
  —Address climate change. 
  —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.

Reports this year from the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) document the dramatic effect of setting a renewable energy portfolio standard. In the first quarter of 2010, the PUC reported that 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.

Senate Bill 107, authored by Simitian and enacted in 2006, established the 2010 deadline for 20%. “While I am pleased by the success of the 20% renewables standard,” he said, “it’s time to take the next step.”

Simitian introduced bills to establish the 33% standard in each of the last two years. In 2009 the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards bill (Senate Bill 14) was approved by both houses of the Legislature, but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. In 2010, Senate Bill 722 garnered strong support for the 33% standard but did not pass the Legislature by the end-of-session deadline.

“With a new governor in office and additional time to carry on the discussions from the last session, I’m optimistic we can establish the 33% standard this year,” Simitian said. “It needs to get done.  And until it does, I’m on it.”

“I want this mandate of 33% by 2020 to be real, meaningful and enforceable,” Simitian said. “It doesn’t make sense to have all our energy eggs in one basket.” A strong renewable energy mandate will ensure that California is served by an array of energy sources, renewable and non-renewable, making California less vulnerable to price spikes in any one source, such as natural gas.

The 33% standard also will put California in the forefront of the transition to green energy and the jobs in those emerging clean-tech businesses. “California can and should act sooner rather than later to increase the use of renewable energy,” said Simitian.  “Increased use of renewable energy here in California has tremendous potential as an economic development tool.  These are clean, green jobs that belong in California.”

Simitian noted that the bill “does not require utilities to reach the goal regardless of cost. If the California Public Utilities Commission determines that no reasonably priced renewable energy is available, a utility will be permitted to postpone meeting the deadline.” 

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