On August 31st, the California state senate was unable to vote on the country’s most aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program due to the session coming to at close at midnight. The bill, SB 722, which passed the state assembly, would have required California to produce 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Governor Schwarzenegger had made it clear he would not have signed the bill even if it passed the senate. The governor’s main concerns were that SB 722 did not allow for enough electricity to be imported from out of state. Additionally, the Governor wanted the bill to include a solution to streamline California’s siting and permitting process for renewable energy projects. Back in June, the Governor commented that he would not, “sign legislation mandating a higher requirement without ensuring that the necessary projects can be built.”
The two main arguments here have to do with developing a vibrant renewable energy market in the state of California while also maintaining competitive electricity pricing. Importing electricity from outside of California doesn’t help increase the number of in state jobs required to build the renewable energy projects needed to meet the 33% RPS target. On the other hand, allowing for greater amounts of electricity to come from out of state will increase competition and hopefully keep prices down, something to be mindful of considering the current economic environment in California.
While Governor Schwarzenegger signed an executive order to reach the 33% target, the order could be over turned by any future governor. Although SB 722 didn’t pass, the governor could call a special session of the legislature to pass the bill before the upcoming election. This could be the only chance for the ambitious 33% target as both California Governor candidate Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina are opposed to it.