San Joaquin Valley Gets Nod In Proposed Legislation

The San Joaquin Valley gets a prominent mention in proposed legislation to expand the green-energy economy in California.

The four-pronged Clean Energy Jobs Initiative calls for a 33% renewable-energy portfolio standard, funding for a new version of the popular but ill-fated PACE program, enhanced grants for skills training and reduces red tape for clean-energy projects in the San Joaquin Valley.

The legislation introduced by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is another attempt to expand the state's renewable-energy platform, and responds to President Obama's national agenda, the authors said.

The act expands previous legislation that accelerates siting of renewable solar-energy plants to include wind and geothermal projects, but the San Joaquin Valley gets a shout-out in a component of the bill sponsored by Coachella Democrat V. Manuel Perez.

That component requires the California Department of Fish and Game to prepare a regional plan for renewable-energy development in the Valley, and makes $7 million available to Valley counties to facilitate alternative energy.

The Valley, because of robust amounts of sun, potential sources of biofuel, lots of fallow former farmland, access to the grid and its proximity to the state's major population centers, is considered a potential leader of green energy.

The proposed bill also would direct $8 million annually from the California Energy Commission to help finance 90 high school level green academies that target at-risk students. The schools would have to partner with a business or industry in the clean technology or renewable-energy sectors to provide matching funds for the grants.

In addition, the legislation proposes the creation of a Clean Energy Reserve as an alternative to Property Assessed Clean Energy program, which the Federal Housing Finance Agency opposes because of a perceived default risk.

The Reserve would use $50 million previously designated for PACE programs, and would be used to create a reserve or other credit opportunities for certain lenders. Unlike PACE, lenders, not borrowers, would apply for the credit enhancements, according to this Solar Industry Magazine story, and finance energy-efficiency improvements.

"I believe this is a strong package that will help California immeasurably," Assemblyman John A. Perez said. "Green manufacturing has the potential to create millions of jobs in the coming decades. Those jobs are going to be created somewhere and they must be created here in California."