If America is addicted to oil, as current world leaders have claimed, then this bill is detox. Numerous energy experts from the scientific and political communities have thrown their support behind this bill, including three Nobel Laureates and the former energy advisor to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. As of now, the current output of wind, solar and all other alternative forms of energy in California is a measly 10.9 percent. This bill would increase that output by a factor of four, making California not just the leader in alternative energy production in America, but the world leader in the production of such energy.
Such a project is ambitious, but eminently doable. Rather than requiring the sort of “all-at-once” standard that would damage such legislation, Proposition 7 takes a fairly conservative, incremental approach to the problem by only requiring 2 percent increases in the Renewable Portfolio Standard annually. This would give California’s utilities ample time to adjust their consumption accordingly, and would not sink the state’s power sources by requiring them to shift completely. This might be inconvenient, but it is not impossible, and given the long-term benefits that would arise from this bill’s successful implementation, a few minor inconveniences surely are not sufficient reason to vote no.
California’s residents are overwhelmingly in favor of alternative energy policies, especially as it is advanced by this bill. And besides the gains California will make in energy, this bill will also create 370,000 new jobs, which will promote dynamic growth in California’s economy. Unlike the subsistence level jobs provided by current energy sources, these will be high wage jobs that will place California’s people on the cutting edge of both energy technology and economic growth.
Admittedly, this bill is ambitious. However, the sources for the energy it aims to harness are eminently practical. Much of the energy required by the Renewable Portfolio Standard can be found through solar power plants located in the desert, which utilize proven technology to harness enough energy to potentially supply all of California. This technology utilizes heat reflected off mirrors to heat water and generate energy as a result, and is already being used by utility companies like PG&E and SCE. At the point where energy companies are already buying contracts to use this technology, there is no good reason why California should not make them use those contracts as effectively as possible. The rising price of gas, the insufficient nature of other all alternative sources and the urgent need for energy to keep California’s economy functioning foreclose the possibility of waiting for another historic measure like Proposition 7 to come along.