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USA: From Governor Moonbeam to Governor Sunbeam — Brown pushes for alternative energy

By Dana Hull
dhull@mercurynews.com
Posted: 07/24/2011 03:06:00 PM PDT
Updated: 07/24/2011 10:41:51 PM PDT
Click photo to enlarge
Jerry Brown, the 39th Governor of California, addresses the audience after he was… ( Dai Sugano )«12»During his first two terms nearly four decades ago, Jerry Brown became famously known as Governor Moonbeam. Now he seems destined to become Governor Sunbeam.

With the epic battle over the state budget finally behind him, Brown’s first major policy initiative aims to fulfill the ambitious goal laid out in his campaign: to develop a clean-energy economy in California.

Brown wants the state to produce 20,000 new megawatts of renewable electricity — enough to power 20 cities the size of San Francisco and roughly one-third of the state’s current peak use — by 2020. That would nearly triple the amount of electricity that California currently gets from renewable sources.

The plan includes the fast-tracking of large, utility-scale renewable power plants. But 12,000 megawatts are to come from “localized electricity,” small systems located close to where energy is consumed that don’t require new transmission lines. A variety of technologies, from biogas to wind, will play a role. But solar panels — on the roofs of commercial buildings and along the banks of state highways — will be a dominant element.

“The future of energy is not Texas oil,” Brown said last month at the groundbreaking for the Blythe Solar Power Project, a massive solar power plant under construction in Riverside County. “It’s California sun.”

Richard Caperton, an energy policy analyst with the Center for American Progress, said the scale of Brown’s energy ambitions are unprecedented. “Doing it statewide, at this level, is unheard of,” he said. “This is the sort of goal that countries in Europe and Asia are operating with.”
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