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09/13/2017 06:56 pm ET
California’s fast-growing advanced energy industry is good for business and the economy. The industry is a source of more than a half million jobs across the state, and a bill now before the legislature would make things even better.
The legislature is considering SB 100, which would move our state’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable generation by 2045. And to help us meet that goal, it would also accelerate California’s interim targets, calling for a 50 percent Renewables Portfolio Standard by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030.
Our state already boasts the largest advanced energy economy in the nation. Last year, renewables generated about 29 percent of our electricity— so while the goals of SB100 are ambitious, they certainly are achievable. So far, each time California has set a clean energy goal, we have gotten there faster than planned. We can do it again — and we should, for the sake of our environment and our economy.
In fact, thanks to the 2016 report from the Risky Business Project, founded by Co-Chairs Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer we know that achieving GHG emissions reductions of at least 80 percent by 2050 is technologically and economically feasible. The report highlights that businesses can reduce economic risks and seize on new market opportunities by factoring in climate risks into investment decisions, especially long-term, place-based infrastructure and supply chain investments.
The Los Angeles Business Council recently joined almost two dozen business groups in calling for SB 100’s passage in large part because we enthusiastically embrace the economic engine that this bill embodies for California.
Renewable costs keep falling, and in many places it’s cheaper to build wind and solar plants than new fossil-fired options. A massive move to advanced energy is underway and gaining speed. California is well positioned to lead the way, and SB 100 will help keep us out front.
But it’s not just urban centers like Los Angeles that will benefit from cementing California’s commitment to advanced energy. Most renewable energy projects built in California in the last decade are in rural counties, including places that have struggled with higher unemployment levels. For example, in the San Joaquin Valley, the Renewables Portfolio Standard has created 88,000 jobs and injected $11.6 billion into the economy. In the Inland Empire, the construction of new renewable power plants generated 29,000 high-skilled and high-quality direct jobs from 2010 to 2016.
Businesses up and down the state and across the country have made commitments to purchasing clean power, with companies from Google to General Motors setting target dates to go 100 percent renewable. Dozens of American cities from coast to coast are setting all-clean-energy goals, too. If SB 100 passes, California will become the world’s first top-ten economy to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.
That will be a powerful market signal. And it will secure California’s clean energy leadership for years to come.
Mary Leslie is president of the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), an organization dedicated to serving local businesses.