Greener Power For California? New bill would increase utilities’ required percentage of power from renewable energy sources

Clean Technology

On Thursday, the California State Senate passed SBX1 2, introduced by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and a few others. This bill would require 33% of the power that California utilities provide to their customers come from solar, wind and other qualified renewable sources by the year 2020. Currently, California law (which was also initially introduced by Simitian) puts this requirement at 20%. Supporters of the bill tout its potential for improved air quality and, perhaps more importantly for many Californians, job creation. The Union of Concerned Scientists state that not only could a 33% renewable standard create over 500,000 new “green collar” jobs in the next several decade, but it would displace nearly 13 million metric tons of emissions in 2020 – the equivalent of taking almost 3 million cars off of California’s roads.
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Bill Introduced to Delay Implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act

Climate Change

Shannon GroveCalifornia Assemblywoman Shannon Grove recently introduced Assembly Bill 333, which seeks to delay California’s AB 32, commonly known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. Adopted in 2006, the Global Warming Solutions Act aims to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The act tasked the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with implementing this goal. CARB’s efforts to date include the recent adoption of cap and trade regulations.

According to Assemblywoman Grove’s press release, AB 333 “will relieve California business from the costly and burdensome regulations associated with AB32 until the unemployment rate in the county where the business resides falls below 7% for six consecutive months.”
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Five Ways to Avoid Seeing RED over CALGreen’s Requirements

Green Building

Commercial Building ConstructionAs reported by my land use partner, Elizabeth Watson, a LEED accredited professional (click here and here), on January 1, 2011, the long-awaited statewide green building code for new commercial and residential construction in California went into effect. Referred to as the California Green Building Standards Code or CALGreen, the new code sets forth a series of mandatory requirements and voluntary measures for public and privately constructed commercial and residential buildings.

To avoid undue stress, even distress, coming to grips with these new sustainability requirements, consider the following:
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Wait-and-See Instead of Cap-and-Trade: Judge puts California’s plans to implement greenhouse gas bill on hold

Climate Change

CourtroomIn a somewhat ironic twist, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled that the CARB (the California Air Resources Board) violated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) (I know, I know, the acronyms never end!) by adopting certain plans for the implementation of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (better known as AB32), including its adoption of cap-and-trade regulations last year. I know what you’re thinking – “Wait, the implementation of one environmental law has been put on hold by a ruling based on another environmental statute??” Yes, folks. I told you it was ironic.

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L.A. Takes the Lead in Replacing LEED

Green Building

Downtown Los AngelesAmid much fanfare, in 2008 the Los Angeles City Council established the Green Building Program requiring, among other things, that most new structures over 50,000 square feet in size be built to the United States Green Building Council (“USGBC”) Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (“LEED”) basic “Certified” standard. To incentivize projects of any size attaining LEED “Silver” or higher equivalence, priority processing was offered. The third element of the City’s Green Building Program was to establish an inter-departmental Green Team to implement and recommend refinements to the Green Building Program. Since then, 28 projects have met the LEED Certified level and an additional 19 projects have received priority processing.

In the interim, the California state legislature adopted the first-in-the-nation green building code, the California Green Building Standards Code known as CALGreen. (Click here for more on CALGreen) All municipalities are required to comply with CALGreen as of January 1st of this year. In addition to the compulsory baseline requirements, CALGreen establishes more stringent “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” discretionary green measures. Under the legislation, local agencies can opt to enact their own version of CALGreen to incorporate the more rigorous “Tier 1” and/or “Tier 2” measures as mandatory.
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