As you are aware, Governor Jerry Brown has stated that California will go its own way during the Trump Administration. One of the biggest issues that Brown and his allies in the state legislature have focused on is climate change. They have decided to take matters in their own hands and make California a totally renewable energy state.
The California Senate Majority Leader Kevin de León has introduced a new bill that would mandate the Golden State get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. This replaces a law that was passed in 2016 that dictated that renewable energy sources be 50% of all electricity produced by 2030. This bill moves that requirement up to 2025 with the 50% edict and establishes the new 100% standard 20 years later.
What has not been widely discussed in the press – and buried in the details of the bill – is that all new homes and all homes sold must have solar panels as their source of energy. All apartment buildings with more than four units must install solar panels by 2025, and all commercial and office buildings must do the same. As for farms, they must commit 25% of their acreage to windmills.
A Democratic member of the Senate told us “We cannot wait any longer to save the planet. The time is now.” We asked him about the economic effect of the bill. He stated, “This will be a huge economic stimulus for California. Now all my family members who are here as undocumented workers can get a job. It will take the burden off me of supporting them. Who do you think is going to climb on all those roofs and install those solar panels?”
“We are very concerned about the effects on the poor of California. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.” We asked the Senator how the people outside Silicon Valley and Beverly Hills are going to pay for the costs of upgrading their homes. The Senator spoke of the federal subsidies for this.
He then said, “California has its own program and we plan on expanding that. The program, of course, will be income qualified and aimed toward identified minorities.” Expanding on that issue, he said anyone who can show they are Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ or disabled will get a special subsidy. We are particularly targeting our Native American friends. As long as you can prove you are at least 1/16 Native American we will provide a full subsidy for those individuals.”
We asked how he came up with that standard. The Senator replied “If the standard is good enough for Harvard it is good enough for California.
The reaction from the farming community was the most pronounced. They have been hard hit by water shortages. The farmers are already at war with the state because they think the elected officials care more about the Delta Smelt than feeding Americans.
The backlash was most agitated from organized farm interest groups. Steve Manger, President of the California Farm Association, was not shocked by the plan. He told us, “What the hell, they have taken all of our water away from us for growing crops. They have killed the breadbasket of America; why not put those ugly contraptions on the fallow land?”
Bud Jorgensen of Meadowland Farms is already participating in the windmill program. He said “I used to grow cauliflower on that acreage over there, but once Mrs. Obama started that lunch program nobody wanted our crops anymore. So we put in them damn windmills. All we do all day is pick up dead birds. Cannot get ammo to shoot them anyway with the new laws in California. The only good part of this is Cheryl makes a mean crow stew.”
Citing the fact that German energy costs have soared to twice the cost of the United States because of the German government’s requirements regarding renewable energy, the Consumer Federation of California (CFC) expressed concern over costs that would be passed on to consumers. A spokesperson for CFC questioned the wisdom of this: “How are we supposed to sue the power companies when they get their energy off peoples’ roofs.”
A leader on the California State Assembly told us “This is the issue of our time. We will not stop until there are solar panels on every home and windmills in every corner of the state. We are going to save this planet whether they want to be saved or not.” We thanked the Assemblywoman as we heard McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stopping Us Now playing in the background in her office.