Statement: Senate transportation committee passes bill to add more solar power in California

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SB 49 would encourage solar over parking lots and along state’s highways

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Senate Transportation Committee, by a bipartisan 16:0 vote Tuesday, passed legislation to encourage solar over parking lots and along highways in the Golden State. SB 49, authored by state Sen. Josh Becker, is sponsored by Environment California.

Next, the bill will go to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. If approved, that committee would then refer the legislation to the Appropriations Committee.

California needs to build more solar infrastructure to meet its goal of powering the state 100% with clean energy by 2045. SB 49 would make it easier for the state to develop solar capacity, energy storage and transmission lines, while reducing the need to disturb undeveloped land.

The bill takes a two-pronged approach to boosting California’s solar capacity. First, it would spur more solar over parking lots via a sales tax exemption for the materials to build solar canopies. Second, it would have the state develop a plan to make its highway rights-of-way available for renewable energy generation, energy storage and transmission lines. By leasing state-controlled land along highways for solar power, California can earn revenue from lease payments and save money through avoided maintenance costs of leased areas, all while producing much-needed renewable energy throughout the state.

In response, Steven King, Environment California’s clean energy advocate, released the following statement:

“SB 49 will help California rise to the challenge of meeting its 100% clean energy goal. We need to double down on harnessing the sun’s vast potential to power our lives, and California’s ample supply of parking lots and highways can contribute substantially.”

“By moving this bill forward, the state Senate can make sure California keeps its nation-leading solar capacity growing. We thank Chair Lena Gonzalez, the Senate Transportation Committee, and Sen. Josh Becker for passing SB 49 out of committee today.”