Press Release

Thursday, June 07, 2012

For Immediate Release

How to Meet California’s Local Renewable Energy Goals

Contact: Susan Gluss, sgluss@law.berkeley.edu, 510-642-6936

Berkeley, CA—June 7, 2012…. A new report released today provides a blueprint for California to meet and surpass its ambitious local renewable energy goals. The report, California’s Transition to Local Renewable Energy: 12,000 Megawatts by 2020, is a project of the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

California has a target goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020, one of the most far-reaching in the country. But Governor Jerry Brown has raised the bar even higher.He’s calling for a total of 12,000 megawatts of local renewable energy, or power that comes from sites close to our homes and businesses. It’s an aggressive target—nearly three times the amount generated by the state’s two nuclear power plants.

The goal may be ambitious, but it’s attainable, according to the report. It examines barriers to local renewable energy production—from grid planning and financing to fire safety and building permits—and provides a step-by-step guide to overcome them.

“The report is a blueprint for California, and it also offers a model for the rest of the country,” said report co-author Steven Weissman, director of the energy program at the law school’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE).

The report’s recommendations reflect conversations held among stakeholders at a 2011 conference convened by Gov. Brown, as well as extensive research and analysis by the report’s co-authors. The material was compiled at the request of the governor’s office, but its proposals represent the views of CLEE alone.

“This report informs the work of the governor and offers an important contribution to California’s clean energy future,” said Michael Picker, a senior energy advisor to Gov. Brown. “It captures ideas and comments from private businesses, utilities, trade groups, environmentalists, labor unions, and more.”

California is already on its way to generating local renewable power, as residents across the state are installing solar panels on roofs, wind turbines on farms, and bioenergy generators at landfills to harvest the state’s natural resources. But to aggressively develop small- and large-scale local energy projects, several barriers to planning, permitting, financing and construction must be overcome.

“The benefits of local renewable energy are countless,” said report co-author Jeffrey Russell, a senior research fellow at Berkeley Law. “Projects are sited on existing buildingsor degradedland, so they typically don’t harm sensitive habitats and species,” he said. “They help spur economic growth in local communities by generating installation, construction, and maintenance jobs. It’s a win-win for business and the environment.”

Gov. Brown is already implementing ideas discussed at the conference, including a new executive order targeting zero net energy consumption for new or renovated state buildings designed after 2025. The state is also working to streamline local permitting—and standardize requirements—for solar installations.

“Renewables are a safer, cleaner source of energy and a viable alternative to fossil fuels or nuclear power,” said Weissman. “But developing these smaller projects to meet our energy needs requires extensive involvement by residential customers, government officials at every level, and business executives from companies large and small.”

Action steps to local renewable energy growth

California’s leadership can expedite the state's transition to local renewable energy, according to the report, by taking recommended action steps. Some of these include:

State government

Local Government

Electric utilities

Industry:

California’s Transition to Local Renewable Energy also recommends reforms within each stage of development, from early grid planning to final permitting. Some government action steps include:

Financing

Permitting

Grid Planning

A public webcast to review the report’s key findings will be held on Thursday, June 14, at 2:00 pm P.T. For more info, go to the webcast page.

6/7/2012