Southern California environment news and trends

California’s shared clean energy bill wins pivotal vote

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A field of solar panels.

SB 843, the proposed California legislation slated to expand renewable energy access to all residents took a big step forward yesterday when it passed the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee in a landslide victory with a vote margin of 9-2.

“I was the guy at the table testifying and trying to answer questions,” explained Tom Price of solar investment firm CleanPath Ventures about the hearing when reached by phone. He sat alongside Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), the author of the bill. “It went incredibly well. We had a line through the back door of people wanting to support it, ranging from the Department of Defense to churches and schools. The opposing side was all utilities. But I don’t think we’re really all that far apart.”

As we reported earlier this year, if passed, the legislation would allow California residents to purchase up 100 percent renewable energy from large-scale community facilities and receiving credit on the corresponding bills from the state’s major utilities, including PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Potentially, the credits could offset those bills completely.

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New bill aims to give all Californians clean energy options

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When it comes to renewable energy, millions of Californians (more than 75 percent of all households) are unable to participate for any number of reasons. Primary among those reasons: Renting instead of owning a home. A proposed new bill is aiming to remove that restriction and offer clean energy options to those millions of renters and more residents currently unable to do so.

As reported by the Davis Enterprise, Democratic State Senator Lois Wolk debuted Senate Bill 843 last week, with the intention of offering the option to said renters and other California power consumers.

“This bill would give millions of Californians the option to buy a portion of the power that is generated at a community renewable energy facility off site and to receive a credit on their utility bill for the clean energy that they purchase,” Wolk said at a Davis news conference last Friday (May 11).

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Gov. Brown orders new green building standards

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California Governor Jerry Brown

Thanks to an executive ordered issued by Gov. Jerry Brown this week, California state buildings are going to be charged with meeting an updated and stringent green criteria.

Among the many goals of the executive order include half of all new state buildings being zero net energy facilities (AKA carbon neutral) by 2020. By 2025, all state buildings will be required to meet that mark. New or renovated state buildings over 10,000 sq. feet will have to reach the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver certification or higher, as well as incorporate clean energy generation.

“Doing something real about the growing threat of global warming requires more than just new laws. We must lead by example,” said Governor Brown in the Imperial Valley News. “Greening the state’s buildings will shrink our environmental footprint and save taxpayers millions of dollars.” 

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Sierra Club’s new clean energy initiative targets California Gov. Jerry Brown

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the nine-point bill lays out exactly how the state can invest in clean energy solutions in order to generate “jobs, savings, clean air and a more equitable and prosperous economy," 

Sierra Club, America’s longest-running grassroots environmental organization, has launched a new initiative asking members to petition Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a “Clean Energy Bill Of Rights.”

Tagged “My Generation,” the nine-point bill lays out exactly how the state can invest in clean energy solutions in order to generate “jobs, savings, clean air and a more equitable and prosperous economy," according to the Sierra Club.

Among those bill elements are “universal access to clean energy,” the “right to earn money from abundant and unlimited clean energy sources such as sunshine and wind,” and “reduced harm to low income communities & communities of color, which, according to Sierra Club, suffer disproportionately from the effects of dirty energy such as coal generation.”

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Apple turns up the sun with new solar-powered plant

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Apple, the company that makes a large number of your (um, our) cell phones and computers, is in need of a little good news. The digital giant has taken a big PR hit of late, with reports of questionable employee conditions in their Chinese factories resulting in this week’s ABC “Nightline” expose.

Yesterday, Apple took to the company website to announce something decidedly more upbeat: details of their massive new data center in Maiden, North Carolina that will be primarily powered with renewable energy. CNET reports that the 500,000-square-foot facility will cost a cool $1 billion, and has already earned LEED's highest award – a Platinum certification – for what Apple has planned.

“We know of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification,” says Apple’s website. “Apple’s goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this — including building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the United States.” 

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