The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has taken matters into its own hands after Senate Bill 722 failed to pass last month. The ARB unanimously voted last week to set a new standard that mandates 33 percent of the state's energy be renewable by 2020.
California currently utilizes more than 14 percent renewable energy, but the new standards will target 20 percent as early as 2012. The ARB is hoping that new regulation will promote jobs in California-based renewable energy facilities while also reducing air pollution and lessening the state's dependence on natural gas.
"The Renewable Electricity Standard means cleaner energy for California’s households and businesses," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "This standard is going to further diversify and secure our energy supply while also growing California’s leading green technology market, which will lead to cost savings for consumers."
Renewable energy comes in numerous forms, including solar, wind and biofuel power. It involves generating electricity from sources that are naturally replenished, instead of a limited-supply resource like petroleum.
Though the state previously set renewable energy goals for publicly-owned utility companies, the new regulation will tie in all energy providers, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which is the largest public utility company in the U.S.
Companies can meet the 33 percent target by purchasing renewable energy credits (similar to carbon offsets), meaning an investment in renewable energy projects, however, the electricity provided to consumers may not be renewable.
SB 722 would have held the same target as the ARB's standard, but it would have been a state law that would hold more weight. This could come into play if California voters pass Proposition 23, which would stall state environmental initiatives until the state unemployment drops below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. The state's current rate is 12.4 percent.
California went through a similar situation in August when the Senate rejected AB 1998, which would have banned retailers from providing disposable plastic bags and imposed a tax on disposable paper bags. One of the main arguments in opposition of that law was the potential loss of jobs.