California Legislature Passes Renewable Energy Bill

On Tuesday March 29, California legislators finally passed a bill that would require public and private energy utility companies to obtain at least 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, an increase from the 20% that is required currently.

The bill, which has stalled many times in the previous years, passed with a 55-19 vote in the assembly and a 26-11 vote in the senate; most of the votes were split over party-lines, with most Democrats supporting the bill.  The bill now heads to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval, who lobbied for an increase to 33% during his campaign for office last year.

If it is approved, this legislation would be one of the nation’s most aggressive and ambitious policies to incorporate the use of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.

Proponents of the bill say that the new mandate will provide more jobs and bolster the economy, as green energy companies grow in competition for contracts and business with the electric utilities.  Other supporters are also touting the bills environmental benefits, like reduced air pollution and emission of greenhouse gases, as well as reduced reliance on foreign oil for energy.

Still, those against the bill claim that the new law is too restrictive on the utilities, and would raise prices for taxpayers and drive up the price of electricity.  Even though it would attract more green businesses and create jobs, they contend that the bill would ultimately hurt existing businesses and their workers and drive costs up.

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