Schwarzenegger boosts clean energy plan

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:27pm EDT

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during a news conference in San Francisco, California in this July 3, 2009 file photo. Schwarzenegger on Tuesday ordered that a third of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by 2020, the same amount as a legislature plan but with promises to let power companies get more electricity from outside the state. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during a news conference in San Francisco, California in this July 3, 2009 file photo. Schwarzenegger on Tuesday ordered that a third of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by 2020, the same amount as a legislature plan but with promises to let power companies get more electricity from outside the state.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's governor on Tuesday ordered that a third of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by 2020, the same amount as a legislature plan but with promises to let power companies get more electricity from outside the state.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that his plan would help the state better meet its clean energy target by making it easier to import power. He also said the legislature's alternative would have required solar thermal plants to clear more regulatory hurdles before they could be built.

The most populous state is also the biggest U.S. alternative energy market, and its environmental standards including car pollution rules and green building regulations are models for national and international policies.

The state aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming to 1990 levels by 2020, and the governor has also called for the state to reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

"What they have proposed is a job killer," he said of the legislature's plan. "It also would give us a limited chance of reaching this goal (for cutting greenhouse gases). It also would raise rates and is protectionism to the highest level," the governor said in webcast remarks after signing the order. He will veto the legislature's plan.

The executive order puts the state's Air Resources Board in charge of implementing the 33 percent standard and it could develop detailed guidelines by the middle of next year.

Public Utilities Commission Deputy Director Nancy Ryan said that the commission aimed to keep the expansion of renewable energy "simple, flexible and workable."

"Unfortunately, the legislation was highly proscriptive and overly complex," Ryan said.

Some industry groups and renewable energy companies, such as Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc, had lined up in favor of the legislation and urged the governor to sign the bills.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

(for more environmental news see our Environment blog at blogs.reuters.com/environment)

(Reporting by Peter Henderson and Laura Isensee)

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