Leading the Way: California’s Clean Energy Legislation

Setting ambitious energy efficiency targets for 2030, a goal that the Alliance shares and strongly pursues, is becoming increasingly popular among leaders. In the latest example, on October 7, Governor Jerry Brown (D) enacted landmark legislation ramping up California’s clean energy goals via energy efficiency and renewable energy penetration. The California Assembly voted 52-26 on September 11, the last day of the legislative session, to approve S.B. 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, which requires the state to increase its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 22 percent to 50 percent and double energy efficiency in buildings by 2030. Both of these provisions will help drive a cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient electric grid, and sets a bold precedent for other states around the country to follow suit. 

The new law directs the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to establish targets for statewide annual energy efficiency savings and demand reduction that will achieve a cumulative doubling of energy efficiency savings by 2030. Additionally, beginning in 2019, the law requires the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to provide recommendations and an update on progress consistent with the goal. This includes an assessment of energy efficiency savings’ effect on electricity demand statewide and specific strategies for the contribution of energy efficiency savings in disadvantaged communities. Publicly-owned electric utilities must also establish annual targets in line with the goal.

The Alliance strongly supports the state of California and Governor Brown’s leadership in advancing the legislation and associated targets, which go hand-in-hand with our goal, endorsed by President Obama, of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030. Through our Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 initiative and Energy 2030 On the Road campaign, the Alliance has long supported the notion that states can lead the way and play a hugely complementary role to the federal government in driving investment in energy efficiency in state operations as well as in the private sector, which will ultimately play a key role in bolstering energy productivity across all sectors of the economy.

Increasing energy productivity is about doing more with less, generating greater economic well-being for the amount of energy used across sectors and improving quality of life for all. The energy efficiency and renewable targets outlined in S.B. 350 demonstrate California’s commitment to increasing energy productivity in two key sectors—electricity generation and the built environment. The potential for savings in the building sector in particular is incredibly ripe for savings because it accounts for most of our nation’s electricity use.[1]

The enactment of S.B. 350 in California is yet another 2015 energy efficiency policy accomplishment.  The Alliance is working to close out the year with increased awareness of the benefits of bipartisan energy efficiency legislation and the need for longer-term clean energy tax extenders. Our actions and successes now are critical for meeting our collective—and expanding goals—for 2030. It is inspiring to see so many leaders commit to doing what is best for our economy and environment. We must keep up the good work for our goals to become our reality.