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How California’s Proposition 23 Will Affect the Solar Industry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday October 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

It is fitting that the Golden State produces the most solar energy in the U.S. Solar power is expected to grow even more in California. The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved four major solar power projects, and is expected to approve two more projects this week. The solar power projects approved and pending approval could produce enough energy to power 675,000 homes. In addition, the CEC is expected to rule on nine projects by end of the year that could produce 4,300 megawatts (MW) of power

Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, says of the projects: “These are the first projects of this size in the U.S. They’re a sign to the rest of the country that solar is here, not a technology of the future.”

The solar power boom in California could end if Proposition 23, which would overturn the Global Warming Solutions Act, passes. Angiolo Laviziano, CEO of REC Solar, based in San Luis Obispo, wrote about Proposition 23 and California’s solar industry for the Business Journal. Laviziano says that in November the San Joaquin Valley, a region where numerous solar power projects are slated to be built, residents will have to “choose whether to save or sabotage their economic future.”

The San Joaquin Valley has five of the country’s top 10 farming counties, but it also has much poverty. In December 2005 the Congressional Research Service released a report that found the Valley’s eight counties to have lower per-capita incomes than in the 60-plus counties in the Central Appalachia region. The unemployment rate for Fresno County, the most populous Valley county, in August was 15.4 percent. California’s unemployment rate in August was 12.4 percent. That national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent.

Laviziano points out that Texas oil companies “are trying to convince California voters to shut down the fastest-growing sector of our economy.” The solar power sector is one that the San Joaquin Valley desperately needs. With its abundant sunshine, areas with fallow farmland due to lack of irrigation water and existing transmission corridors, the Valley is tailor-made for solar power projects.

Consider a few of the solar power projects slated to be built in the Valley:

  • Chevron is building Project Brightfield, 7,700 solar panel project that will generate energy for the company’s Kern River Field Operations and the local utility grid.
  • The Westlands Water District in Fresno County and Kings County plans to convert 47 square miles of fallow farm land into one of the largest solar energy projects in the world. The first phase will generate one gigawatts (GW) of energy, enough to power one million homes.

Come November, voters will essentially have a chance to either vote for or against the solar power industry to continue to grow in the San Joaquin Valley and the rest of California. If Proposition 23 is passed, projects like the ones cited above will be a thing of the past.

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Our series on Proposition 23, sponsored by EOS Climate continues next week!


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  • http://www.thesunrunner.com Steve Brown

    Unfortunately, the fast-tracked solar power projects you tout as being beneficial, are actually going to have a serious negative impact on the environment and Native American cultural resources in the California deserts. They are technologically obsolete, and are being built far from the urban centers that will use their energy, through a process that shuts out much in the way of public comment, tribal consultation, environmental study, and cultural resource evaluation. The BLM has gone out of their way to stonewall my magazine’s attempts to get information regarding this process.
    So, evidently, I may need to support Prop 23 in order to attempt to slow the damage being done to the desert as the corporate welfare program being portrayed as “green” energy development. It’s a shame to have to choose, but I’m very familiar with the damage being done to the desert through these projects where the real “green” is the taxpayer-funded incentives being handed out.

  • Wayne

    The key thing to keep in mind is that, according to CARB, the organization who wrote and will enforce AB32, AB 32 will do NOTHING to help global warming, will cost jobs and have a negative effect on the economy. This comes from the very people who drew it up!

    AB 32 does nothing for local pollution.

    Prop 23 leaves us with the toughest pollution laws in the country, among the toughest in the world. It will NOT increase local pollution

    If Proposition 23 is rejected, here is what will happen according to expert sources:

    •A 60 percent increase in your electricity bill according to the Southern California Public Power Authority.

    •An 8 percent increase in your natural gas bill according to CARB’s economic analysis.

    •$50,000 more for the price of a new home according to an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    •$3.7 billion a year more for gasoline and diesel according to Sierra Research.

    •A $1,000-$3,000 additional cost for a new car according to CARB and automaker studies.

    On top of all that, a study conducted for the California Small Business Roundtable found that AB 32 regulations would cost small business alone nearly $200 billion, and would result in more than 1 million lost jobs.

    The more I learn about AB 32, the more I fear it. It just gets worse. Please vote yes on Prop23.

    “”2 Guys on the Bay Area Transportation Board told the CARB people, “If you try to do what you are going to do(AB 32) we’ll have gas at $9.07 a gallon and we have freeway tolls at up to $4,500 a year to drive during rush hour.”

    “Part of the plan is to stop suburban development, get people to stop driving, make driving too expensive for people to live out there, force them to live in high-rises, condos, in the city.”

    For months, John and Ken have made Prop 23 their top priority, calling it a necessary step to stop a law they say will kill jobs and cost Californians a fortune in higher gas and energy prices. With an estimated one million listeners per week, these two guys usually manage to rally enough votes to get their way.

    The video has John and Ken explaining why they think this bill is the most important measure on the ballot.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/39853750