Thursday, January 1, 2009

Environmental Stewardship Field, Environmental Justice Category

Debra Poneman, Emcee

CalPIRG and Environment California

The home of CalPIRG’s (California Public Interest Research Group) environment work is their sister organization, Environment California. Environment California works exclusively to protect California's clean air, clean water and open space.

Environment California uses the same results-oriented advocacy that made CALPIRG so successful. The focus of the two organizations is to launch a new era of action and advocacy.

After celebrating one of the state’s biggest environmental victories with the passage and signing of Environment California-backed SB 1, the Million Solar Roofs Initiative in 2006, they are now celebrating the state’s progress in meeting this internationally significant solar program.

In 2007, the Million Solar Roofs Initiative’s first full year in operation, California saw more interest in solar power among California consumers than in all 10years in which the state has had a solar rebate program combined. They went from having 200 MW of installed solar power throughout the state at the end of 2006, to adding more than 200 MW in 2007 alone.

Environment California is sponsoring another important solar power bill in the California State Legislature. This bill, AB 1920, would remove unnecessary barriers to consumers interested in going solar by allowing consumers to install whatever sized solar system they want and by requiring utilities to purchase surplus power from the consumer at the end of each year.

California has some of the greatest potential in the world to benefit from solar power due to high levels of sunlight. We also have some of the greatest need. By reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power, clean renewable energy such as solar power can protect our environment while diversifying our energy resources and helping to lower prices.

Solar power can also reduce strain on the electric grid by generating electricity where it is used and hedging against rate spikes by generating electricity when demand is the highest, on hot summer afternoons when air conditioners are running. SB 1 complements the California Solar Initiative established by the Public Utilities Commission in January and puts California on track toward building a million solar roofs in the next ten years.