SB 100: Climate Action’s California Dream
It’s been almost like a dream: I’ve been running around the halls of the Capitol all this week urging legislators to vote yes for SB 100. If passed, this bill would not only accelerate California’s current 50% Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement from 2030 to 2026, but also raise the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 60% by 2030, and require the state to fulfill all of its energy needs with zero carbon resources by 2045. This would be a huge deal for California and in fact a dream come true for climate action – it would show the world that the eighth largest economy is walking the walk when it comes to climate change, encouraging others to do the same.
SB 100 would also be great for our economy. California’s climate and energy policies have already delivered major economic benefits throughout the state. Expanding clean energy through SB 100 would create quality jobs not only around the state, but in the areas that need them the most like rural counties with higher unemployment levels. The last time California expanded its RPS, it was a statewide boon for jobs, creating a minimum of 354,000 additional direct job-years, along with at least 879,000 job-years in construction. SB 100 will only increase these numbers.
The Sierra Nevada would experience a particular economic development boost from SB 100. The biomass industry, as a renewable energy source, will be invigorated under the bill. An example of this boost can be found in the re-opening of the Loyalton Biomass Cogeneration Power Station located on the outskirts of Loyalton, CA, in Sierra County. This project truly showcases the value of renewable energy to our region. It will create in excess of 20 full-time jobs plus an additional 40-60 indirect jobs, providing a $6 million per year direct economic impact in Sierra County CA, which currently has a 9.2% unemployment rate. The purchase will also enable American Renewable Power to develop the Sierra Valley Eco-Tech Park which is estimated to create at least 100 direct local jobs and 150 indirect jobs in the community. These include synergistic operations such as biochar producers, topsoil amendments, heavy equipment training facility, fuel depot, carpet recycler, ash conversion for filtration and the California Conservation Corp (which would add a temporary residency structure for 50-100 additional seasonal jobs).
By supporting the biomass industry, SB 100 will not only foster good, high-paying jobs, but it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other climate pollutants from severe wildfire, improve forest health, and sustain our surrounding rural communities that steward the natural resources the rest of the state depends on.
Moreover, Sierra communities such as Nevada City and South Lake Tahoe (my chosen hometown!) have already pledged to move to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. SB 100 will make it easier for other Sierra towns to join these renewable energy leaders.
As the legislature gets into its final hours of the session, I really hope we see SB 100 move forward. The dream of a clean energy future is so close to becoming reality. By accelerating our state’s renewable energy generation, we can energize job creation, increase public health, reduce GHG emissions, improve air quality, and steward resource protection. The alternative may just be a nightmare.