Proponents rally in Santa Cruz for state clean energy bill

By Jessica A. York, Santa Cruz Sentinel 08/09/17

SANTA CRUZ >> Even as state lawmakers look to completely displace fossil fuel energy use in California within 38 years, Santa Cruz County is helping to move the conservation needle forward locally.

On Wednesday in Santa Cruz, state lobbyist group Environment California launched an 11-city tour in support of the pending Senate Bill 100. The bill, penned by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, calls for a statewide conversion to zero-carbon renewable energy sources by 2045. While the bill has passed through the Senate, it remained in Assembly subcommittee as the legislature departed for summer recess on July 21.

State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, speaking before a small gathering of supporters at Santa Cruz City Hall, said the bill also pushes forward the timeline set by the earlier SB 350 for the state to reach 50 percent renewable energy reliance by four years, to 2026. Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro-electric and renewable methane.

“This is significant because it sends a message to the energy market that the pathway of now and the pathway to the future is safe, clean renewable energy,” Monning said. “In the process, we’re creating jobs in California, over half a million, 500,000 renewable energy jobs.”

Bill opponents such as agricultural and farming industry groups, the California Chamber of Commerce and power utilities argued the state would be better served by an economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction target.

On the local scale, the Monterey Bay Community Power initiative joining Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties hired its first CEO this month after a four-year organization period. The fledgling entity will enable communities, beginning as early as the spring, to choose clean-source power at costs equivalent to PG&E, using the utility’s infrastructure. The private utility will be the first of its kind in the state, Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson said.

“The group of tri-county agencies, including Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito counties and 16 cities, is going to be one of the biggest transitions to renewable energy we have experienced in the state of California and the nation itself,” McPherson said. “We plan to double our dependence on renewable resources not by (the year) 2030, but probably by 2020, 2022 in this tri-county region.”

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