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April 12, 2011

California: 33 Percent by 2020

Solar_stockWith Earth Day right around the corner, California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law the most aggressive renewable-energy requirement in the country -- 33 percent by 2020.

Sweetening the deal, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $1.2 billion in loan guarantees for a California Valley Solar Ranch project in San Luis Obispo County. This is just one day after Google announced its commitment of a whopping $168 million toward a Mojave solar tower plant led by BrightSource -- which will have the potential to "generate 392 gross MW of clean, solar energy. That's the equivalent of taking more than 90,000 cars off the road over the lifetime of the plant, projected to be more than 25 years."

The governor's signing event, which was broadcasted live on the web, took place at a new PV manufacturing plant operated by SunPower and Flextronics in the East Bay. The new factory has brought in more than 100 jobs and "will supply 75 megawatts' a year worth of panels for the San Jose company's photovoltaic farm projects and rooftop projects in the U.S.," according to environmental reporter Todd Woody.

During the press event, Brown got animated as he addressed the crowd. Brown, who's been bogged down in budget negotiations for the past few months, said that renewables are something Californians from all parts of the political spectrum agree on.

"You have to invest in schools, invest in universities, and invest in new ideas. And you can't be afraid to be called a Moonbeam, weird, a deviant...," he said. "This is California leading the country and it's America potentially leading the world." However, he added, the U.S. is falling behind other countries in renewable-energy investment.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brown's predecessor, had signed an executive order for the 33-percent requirement. Brown took it a step further today; executive orders are not as strong as something signed into law. Right now, California gets just under 20 percent of its power from renewables.

-- Brian Foley

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