SACRAMENTO – Nearly 300 of California’s top energy officials, industry leaders, policy makers and company representatives met yesterday in Sacramento at the second annual Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Pathway to 2050 conference. The full day event featured speakers who addressed how California can create a prosperous economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy noted that California is well on its way to fulfilling its energy commitments for 2020, including 33 percent of electricity coming from renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels, which was required by landmark legislation passed in 2006, AB 32.
“California is the leader of energy innovation in the United States. The results are all around us – wind on mountain passes, electric vehicles on the highways, and solar on rooftops,” said Richard. “The state is reaping the benefits in energy savings, cleaner air, new jobs and business growth. Now the question is, how do we go beyond these achievements and get to California’s ambitious 2050 goals? That’s what this conference is all about.”
The conference included a keynote speech by Kish Rajan, director of the Governor’s Office of Business Development, who stated that Governor Brown is focused on being a national and global leader. “California’s economy is growing, not in spite of our environmental goals but because of them,” said Rajan. “As a result, the world is looking to California for forward thinking policies and technological innovations that will help change the way we power the world.”
The industry keynote address was delivered by Alex Laskey, president and co-founder of Opower, a behavioral efficiency and customer-engagement company. “I spend most of my week on the road, and no place comes up more frequently in conversation than California,” said Laskey, referring to the state’s energy conservation record. Noting that Opower, while no longer based in California, got its start here, and still employs a workforce of more than 200 in the state serving 11 electric utilities. “We’re just getting started in California. Our company’s story, this industry’s story, could not have happened anywhere else in the world.”
Robert B. Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission said, “This event shows how much interest and opportunity there is in this industry and how it is transforming not only California but the rest of the world. During the first Brown administration, California had a few small wind machines and PVs were powering freeway signs. We have since moved from energy tinkerers and experimentalists to now seeing serious multi-billion dollar investments and clean energy moving into the mainstream. This event is helping California build on its leadership to meet our future climate and business development goals.”
The conference also featured educational panels related to building a 21st century electricity system, connecting vehicle electrification with the power grid, and keeping California on the cutting edge of energy transformation. Highlights of the day included a fireside chat between AEE co-founder Tom Steyer and Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board and a legislative panel with Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley and Assemblymember Mike Gatto, who discussed the necessary policies and partnerships needed to secure, clean, affordable energy for its citizens.
“The passage of AB 32 marked a watershed moment in California’s history, setting the stage for the state’s transition to a sustainable, clean energy future,” Nichols noted. “As a result, California has the first program in the country that takes a comprehensive, long-term approach to addressing climate change – and we are already seeing its effects in terms of investment in clean technology, cleaner fuels and cars, and getting increasingly more economic growth out of the energy we use. Our continued success will require moving forward with all the programs under AB 32, and new ways of thinking from lawmakers, businesses, and consumers.”
“The world is watching as California leads in the battle against climate change,” said Senator Kevin de Leon. “The passage of AB 32 was earthshattering, not only to the state, but to the nation and world. Eight years later, California businesses are demonstrating they can thrive and spur job creation towards a low carbon economy. This is not the time for delay, this is the time to stay the course.”
About Advanced Energy Economy
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is a national association of businesses making energy secure, clean, and affordable. Advanced energy products and services include energy efficiency, demand response, natural gas electricity generation, solar, wind, hydro, electric vehicles, energy storage, biofuels, and smart grid. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. AEE works with member companies located and doing business in California to help the state reach its energy and climate goals by focusing on effective implementation, leveraging public dollars with private investment, and building public support.