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Schwarzenegger and Renewable Energy: Doing it His Way

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By Neetal Parekh on September 16, 2009 2:21 PM

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to veto state legislation for renewable energy this week.  But he will follow up by signing an executive order propelling California to the top spot for most stringent energy standards in the country.

The "Governator" will veto legislation that has been passed in state Legislature because of its restrictions on sourcing renewable energy out-of-state.  Instead, he will sign an executive order that mirrors the state legislation's mandate that 33% of California's energy be sourced by renewable energy--such as solar, wind, and geothermal--by 2020, but that will allow utility companies to seek renewable energy from beyond California's borders. 

Supporters of the state bill argue that the legislation does not prohibit California utility companies from seeking renewable energy out-of-state, but only requires that the energy come from a plant that synchs in to the state's electricity grid.  And they say that writing in that clause also promotes development of in-state renewable energy projects.

Too much too soon is the Republican governor's response.  While he has been a supporter of alternative energy, he along with other conservatives and even various environmental groups, feel that limiting sources for renewable energy could tie the hands of utility companies and could drive up energy costs for state citizens.  Though the governor hopes to encourage development of renewable energy within the state, he finds the state legislation too restrictive for this early push for stringent renewable energy requirements.

At a time when tensions have run high in the state's capital due to severe state budget cuts and unpopular cost-cutting measures, the broad support for a 33% renewable energy mandate is welcome common ground for Schwarzenegger, but the question of the best way to get there is still cause for debate.

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