Statement by Dan Jacobson
December 4th, 2020
For submission to the California Energy Commission
Docket Number 19-SB-100
Projet Title- SB 100 Joint Agency Report: Charting a path to a 100% Clean Energy Future
Environment California is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to clean air, clean water and protecting beautiful places. For the past 20 years we have worked to move our state toward 100% clean energy. We worked on the first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), SB 1078 by Senator Sher and the subsequent ones ending with SB 100 by Senator de Leon. We have also worked on the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, which was completed last year and numerous programs for energy efficiency and conservation.
I want to thank the Commission and the staff. In addition, a special thanks goes out to the Senators, AssemblyMembers and staff who made these laws possible. It brings me great pleasure to see the words “SB 100 is achievable” as written on page 107 in bold.
The question before the Commission at this point is should we accelerate the pace for reaching SB 100? I would answer YES and give three key reasons:
First, The climate demands that we take this action. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described the fight against the climate crisis as the top priority for the 21st Century, in a passionate, uncompromising speech delivered just two days ago in New York City. The UN Secretary-General laid out the devastating impacts on people’s lives from climate change and the need for immediate action to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. I could drone on but instead, I have included a link to his speech in my comments. You can and should listen to the speech.
Second, your report states clearly that we can accelerate the timeline for meeting SB 100. I appreciate the special section in the report that describes how we can meet the goal without fossil fuels. This is the ONLY path that we should be considering. The continued use of fossil fuels is dirty and dangerous. We can not continue to dig the climate hole at the same time we are trying to fill it up. I want to take a moment to submit a number of reports on distributed solar, which I think needs more attention from the Commision and offshore wind, which is in this analysis a critical part of reaching 100% clean energy. I am also submitting a link to the issue of long duration storage which is also listed in the SB 100 analysis.
The third reason we should accelerate our pace for SB 100 is California leadership. The rest of the country and the world are looking to California to lead the way on clean energy. If we are going to meet the goals set out by the scientific community some states and countries are going to have to be first. Already a number of cities, universities and companies have pledged to move to 100% clean energy by 2030. Our own UC system adopted this goal (UC Merced will be carbon neutral 2 years ahead of schedule). Sacramento Municipal Utility District just this summer voted to move to 100% renewable energy, with no offsets by 2030. And of course, our President Elect, Joe Biden has laid out a goal of 100% clean energy by 2035. This report and our leadership are critical at this time.
The benefits from leadership are rarely recognized, but in this case the public health benefits are priceless. Reducing dirty air and the co-benefits from public health and clean energy need more attention. In addition, there are numerous reports citing the economic benefits of clean energy. We believe that if California leads by accelerating our targets to 100% clean electricity by 2030, we will inspire other cities, states and eventually Congress to follow.
Some people will say we can’t do this and we should move slower. I have heard these arguments for the past 20 years on this issue and they have never been true. I am concerned about the price of renewable energy and the Commission does need to ensure that we keep the price of energy low so we can transition the rest of our economy (including transportation, buildings and industry) to clean energy ASAP. The report cites cost as an issue and we need to recognize that it is critical. But the report also notes that this is an area where more research is needed.
In closing I want to make a few recommendations.
First, set the goal for 100% by 2030.
Second, create a better internal system within the state for hitting our clean energy goals. The different agencies all have strengths and weaknesses, but in this case, like the federal government we need a single person who can drive all of these decisions and not several different agencies.
Third, we should be building now, We need to come out of COVID-19 greener than we went into it and building more clean energy projects is critical.
Thank you for your time and attention to this issue.
Senior Advisor, Environment California
Dan provides campaign strategy and policy guidance for Environment California's program and organizational plans. Prior to his current role, he worked as the state director of Environment California and the organizing director of Florida PIRG, among other roles. The Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) named Dan a Clean Power Champion in 2019, and Capitol Weekly named him one of the “Top 100 Lobbyists” in California in 2008. Dan's areas of expertise include renewable energy, electric vehicles and ocean pollution, and he has successfully advocated for the passage of dozens of bills into law, including measures to ban toxic chemicals, bring 1 million solar roofs to California, and ban single-use plastic grocery bags. He ran the campaign for SB 100, California’s law setting a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2045.