100% Renewable

Legislative roundup: California lawmakers make big moves to promote clean energy in 2023

State legislature passes bills to go solar along highways, support offshore wind development, and more

Clean energy

Liam Louis, Elle Vignette Photography | Used by permission
Staff don hats to show their support for 100% renewable energy.

Last week the California legislature passed a package of important bills that if signed into law, would accelerate California’s efforts to produce its energy from 100% clean sources.

Going big on clean energy

SB 49 (Becker), which would open up California’s highways to solar power projects for the first time, passed the Assembly with a 79-0 vote and the Senate with a 40-0 vote. The bill would direct state agencies to evaluate the potential for solar energy, battery storage and transmission infrastructure alongside highways to help California meet its clean energy targets — generating 90% of the state’s power by 2035 and 100% by 2045. The bill also establishes a process for entities to operate and build this renewable energy infrastructure within state-owned rights-of-way. Environment California Research & Policy Center’s recent report, Solar power alongside California’s highways, reveals 4,800 acres of suitable land for roadside solar in just three of California’s 58 counties, enough land to power over 270,000 homes annually if covered in solar panels. SB 49 is sponsored by Environment California. Tell Gov. Newsom: support solar along highways!

Andy Smith | Used by permission


AB 3 (Zbur), which would have the state develop a plan to upgrade ports and promote in-state manufacturing to support offshore wind development, passed the Senate with a 39-0 vote and the Assembly with a 79-1 vote. The Offshore Wind and Jobs Act would help California realize the full clean energy and economic benefits of offshore wind energy by making necessary upgrades to its ports to handle construction, assembly, operations and maintenance of the massive steel turbines and blades that will float twenty-five miles offshore. AB 3 is sponsored by Environment California. Tell Gov. Newsom: go big on offshore wind procurement and port infrastructure!

AB 1373 (Garcia), which would help build a thriving market for offshore wind energy to enable 100% clean energy in California, passed the Senate with a 29-10 vote and the Assembly with a 62-16 vote. California’s existing strategy for clean energy procurement is ill-suited for new long lead time resources like offshore wind and geothermal energy. This bill would allow the state to buy offshore wind energy in order to give developers certainty that the clean energy they produce will be purchased once turbines start spinning several years from now. Tell Gov. Newsom: go big on offshore wind procurement and port infrastructure!

Andy Smith | Used by permission
Asm Wicks and Asm Zbur with Environment California staff and offshore wind advocates.

SB 48 (Becker), which would develop a strategy to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state’s largest buildings, passed the Assembly by a 57-17 vote and the Senate by a 31-9 vote. The Building Energy Savings Act would cut climate pollution and boost energy efficiency in the state’s commercial buildings with over 50,000 square feet of space, targeting a relatively small number of buildings that account for a disproportionate amount of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. SB 48 is sponsored by Environment California and the Institute for Market Transformation. Tell Gov. Newsom: support energy efficiency in big buildings!

Laura Deehan | TPIN
Environment California advocates with a melting California bear ice sculpture in the summer heat

SB 605 (Padilla), which would study the clean energy potential of wave and tidal power, passed the Assembly by a 80-0 vote and the Senate by a 40-0 vote. This bill would look at harnessing a relatively untapped clean energy resource located right off our coastline, the consistent motion of the ocean, as one of many key contributors to California’s clean energy generation. Tell Gov. Newsom: support offshore wave and tidal power!

Making polluters pay

AB 1167 (Carrillo), which would require bonding for the full cost of plugging and cleaning up idle and low-producing oil wells when they are transferred to a new owner, passed the Senate with a 21-11 vote and the Assembly with a 43-18 vote. The Orphan Well Prevention Act would limit the dangers of orphan oil wells in California, which can contaminate land, surface water and groundwater, making people who live nearby sick. In addition to the health risks, these wells pose an immense financial liability to California taxpayers, who will be on the hook to clean up future orphan wells unless the state addresses the huge shortfall in available bond funds for cleanup. AB 1167 is sponsored by Environment California and NRDC. Tell Gov. Newsom: prevent orphan oil wells!

Laura Deehan | TPIN
Environment California staff and advocates celebrate with Asm Wendy Carrillo

Reauthorizing funds for clean transportation

AB 126 (Reyes), which would reauthorize more than $170 million in annual funding for clean transportation programs, passed the Senate by a 30-8 vote and the Assembly by a 61-12 vote. This bill would reauthorize already existing smog and vehicle registration fees that fund critical clean air programs that support cleaner vehicles, help families trade in old polluting cars, and install charging infrastructure for electric vehicles throughout the state. This bill is critical to ensuring that California can meet its climate and air quality standards. Tell Gov. Newsom: reauthorize clean transportation funds! 

Laura Deehan | TPIN
Lawmakers and advocates of AB 126 after the bill passed a key committee.

Increasing corporate climate accountability and transparency

SB 253 (Wiener), which would require the state’s biggest corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, passed the Assembly by a 49-20 vote and the Senate by a 27-8 vote. The Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act would require US-based corporations operating in California that make over $1 billion annually to publicly disclose their full emissions to increase accountability and transparency over the climate pollution that they emit. Tell Gov. Newsom: support corporate climate accountability and transparency!

SB 261 (Stern), which would increase transparency around climate-related financial risks, passed the Assembly by a 47-17 vote and the Senate by a 28-8 vote. The bill would require more than 10,000 companies with annual revenues exceeding $500 million to report how climate change poses financial risks to their operations, along with the measures they adopt to reduce and adapt to these disclosed risks. Tell Gov. Newsom: support corporate climate accountability and transparency!

Laura Deehan | TPIN
Environment California staff and advocates with Sen Henry Stern after AB 261 passed.

Next steps

Now that these bills have passed the state legislature, they move on to Governor Newsom’s desk for him to sign into law. The bills present a prime opportunity to speed up California’s transition to 100% clean energy, hold polluters accountable, support clean transportation, and increase corporate climate accountability and transparency. Gov. Newsom: Let’s keep this momentum going and sign these important bills into law.

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