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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
April 12, 2011

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– Today Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 2X, putting California in the national forefront in its commitment to renewable energy.  The bill authored by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) requires private and public utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020, raising the target from the current 20%, while providing the flexibility necessary to meet the higher standard.

The Governor signed Simitian’s bill today at SunPower/Flextronics solar manufacturing plant in Milpitas.  Brown and Simitian were joined by U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu for the signing ceremony and dedication of SunPower’s new plant.

“I’m gratified that the Governor has confirmed California’s long term commitment to clean green energy,” said Simitian. “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.”

As the bill passed through both houses of the Legislature, Simitian made the case that the bill would:
  • Bring investment dollars, tax revenues and jobs to California; 
  • Improve air quality;
  • Address climate change; 
  • Protect ratepayers from the kind of market manipulation and price spikes the state experienced in 2001, by diversifying our sources of energy; and,
  •Allow for an American foreign policy based on American values and American interests, rather than energy needs.

Noting the significance of the legislation, Governor Brown said, “This bill will ensure that California maintains its long-standing leadership in renewables and clean energy.”

As a stimulus to investment, Simitian said, “Senate Bill 2X sends a signal to renewable energy providers that California wants them here. They will respond, as they have in the past, with billions of dollars in investments that will provide jobs and tax revenues.”

“Passage of SB 2X is a vital step in providing renewable energy companies with the market certainty that drives business investment and job creation,” said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp., a global solar company headquartered in the Silicon Valley. “Our new California solar manufacturing plant is a direct result of the strong policy support that the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard represents.”

The potential of California’s energy market is confirmed by Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the Independent Energy Producers Association.  “My members are creating jobs here in California today,” he said. “We have billions of dollars invested throughout California in biomass, in solar, in wind, in geothermal, and we’re looking to bring more of them here.”

“With Senate Bill 2X,” said Peter Miller, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “California is committed to build a diverse and resilient energy resource base that takes the threat of climate change seriously and brings the state closer to meeting its air pollution goals.”

Senate Bill 2X applies to all electricity retailers in the state – investor-owned utilities (IOUs), municipal utilities, and independent sellers. The current 20% standard applies only to investor-owned utilities and independent sellers. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) expects IOUs to provide 21% of their electricity from renewables in 2011. Municipal utilities have adopted renewable energy goals, which only some have met.

Senate Bill 2X does not require utilities to reach the goal at any cost. The PUC must approve renewable energy contracts, and utilities may be granted exemptions if the price of energy, or the difficulty of moving it into the state’s grid, make the cost excessive. For these reasons the bill is endorsed by the PUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates and consumer watchdog The Utility Reform Network (TURN).

“Fossil fuels are finite and demand for energy is growing,” said Simitian. “Fossil fuel prices are going to keep heading up. Renewable prices are headed down.”

Senate Bill 2X is supported by TURN (The Utility Reform Network), the state’s largest utility consumer advocacy group, and by the California Division of Ratepayer Advocates, the independent consumer advocacy division of the California Public Utilities Commission.  Both groups cited the cost containment and ratepayer protection provisions of Simitian’s bill as reasons for their support.

The bill is also supported by environmental groups and renewable energy producers, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, many of the state’s municipal utilities and unions representing construction and electrical workers.

Simitian has pushed to establish the 33% standard over the past four years. In 2009 his Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards bill, Senate Bill 14, was approved by both houses of the Legislature, but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger over concerns about precisely what energy contracts would qualify to meet the goal. In 2010, Simitian’s Senate Bill 722 addressed those concerns and garnered strong support for the 33% standard, but did not pass the Legislature by the end-of-session deadline.

California’s current renewable requirement, Senate Bill 107, authored by Simitian and enacted in 2006, established a 2010 deadline for 20% renewables. Utilities expect to exceed that goal this year, consistent with the provisions of SB 107.

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