by Laurette Healey –
Today I spent more time than I should have writing a response to Craig Noble of the NRDC who’s Guest Article on California ’s Progress Report was posted on October 18, 2008. I think that both Mr. Noble’s article and my commentary will give many of you a better understanding of the policy details involved with Proposition 7, The Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008. I want you to be able to evaluate both sides and I hope that you wil make the decision to vote for Prop 7.
Proposition 7 – California, We Must Get Moving!
Mr. Noble you need to do a bit more homework on California ‘s current renewable energy policy because you are wrong about Prop 7:
Yes, the CLCV, the NRDC, and the Union of Concerned Scientists do not support Prop 7, but that is no reason to make the assertion that they or you for that matter know more about California ’s clean energy policy.
As an example, The NRDC supported de-regulation in 2001, which resulted in an unmitigated disaster for California . NRDC does do great work for the environment, but a little humility is in order here.
What “barriers’ are you referring to that Prop 7 supposedly locks into place that could possibly harm renewable energy policy in this State?
You must not be aware that our municipal utilities such as LA DWP and SMUD are currently exempt from any mandates to derive their energy supply from renewable resources, and that the Private and Investor owned utilities are only at about 12% overall.
Prop 7 will even the playing field and will mandate that all utilities – public, municipal, and investor owned will be required to derive 50% their energy supply from renewable energy sources by the year 2025.
Prop 7 proposes that all utilities add a mere 2% of renewable energy to their energy portfolio starting in 2010 through 2025, assuming that the utilities comply with current law to reach 20% in their renewable portfolios by 2010. You know very well that we have a climate in crisis and I dare say the rapidly diminishing Sierra snowpack is not going to wait until all the “green” rings have been kissed. If ever there was a time to raise the bar – it is now. Let us work together in our own imperfect way, but let’s get moving.
You must know that Prop 7 in no way excludes smaller renewable energy providers from participating in California’s energy market and does not attempt to exclude renewable power facilities smaller than 30 megawatts from counting toward the measure’s new requirements.
The author’s of Prop 7 have submitted a writ of mandate to the Supreme Court of California whereby they make abundantly clear that the language of Proposition 7 does not exclude the small solar provider. You are being confused by the 30 million dollars worth of advertising by SEMPRA, PG&E, and Southern California Edison.
Prop 7 actually creates mandatory enforcement penalties for utilities that fail to achieve the state’s renewable energy targets. Currently the penalties are not mandated by law and no penalties have ever been enforced. Look at the real math here – higher penalties but no enforcement equals zero compliance. A lower penalty with enforcement equals 100% compliance or fines that will be collected. This is the real math.
Prop 7 does require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to make any changes. Most propositions do not have such a provision – such as Prop 8. By including a high threshold of Legislative vote to overturn an element of the proposition, the proposition is assuring that Californians will not have their decisions overturned by special interests, but still allows for real problems to be addressed.
Prop 7 would expedite environmental review of renewable energy projects from the current 18 months to 6 months. The siting of renewable energy and transmission projects will be an open, transparent process with more than enough opportunity for review and comment by concerned citizens, regulatory agencies, and federal, state, and local governments.
As a former board member of the California League of Conservation Voters, I share with you a deep passion for the future of our energy policy and the fate of our planet. I hope that you take the time to understand Proposition 7 and the value it offers to the State of California and the rest of the world.
Former Deputy State Controller
Laurette Healey is the Democratic candidate for the 40th Assembly District.