The New York Times today has an an excellent page 1 article on California's efforts to tackle global warming. Highlights include:
1) California's annual per capita electricity use has been almost flat since the 1970's, as the rest of the country's increased by more than 50%.
2) California's recent decision to cut CO2 emissions by 25% by 2020 is predicted to add $60 billion and 17,000 jobs to the California economy by 2020.
3) A new California law calls for renewable sources to make up 20% of electricity fuels by 2010. And California does not consider large hydro (currently 17% of California's energy portfolio) a renewable source. (New York, by contrast, does, which signficantly lessens New York's commitment to reach 25% renewables by 2013, since 17% of New York's electricity currently comes from hydro, mostly from Niagara Falls.)
4) In August, California passed a bill requiring builders to offer home buyers roofs with solar electric tiles.
5) California -- which for years has required large appliances to be energy efficient -- now imposes similar requirements on cellphone chargers, computers, and remote controlled devices. (It is estimated that chargers and "vampire" appliances that draw power even when they are off use up to 10% of an average home's power).
6) Since 1982, California has "decoupled" utilities sales from profits so that utilities make more money when customers to use less electricity. Every other state rewards utilities for selling more energy.
7) California's huge pension fund, Calpers, is committing just under $1 billion to renewable energy investments.
8) Investor-owned eletrical utilitities in California cannot sign long term contracts to buy energy unless the seller meets stringent emissions standards that cannot exceed those of the cleanest gas-driven plants. Since California represents 40% of the total electricity consumption in the West, this is affecting power producers in the many western states that produce California's electricity.
9) California law prohibits construction of nuclear plants until questions of waste disposal are resolved.
The article is entitled "California, Taking Big Gamble, Tries to Curb Greenhouse Gases." The article fails to note the even bigger gamble that others are taking by doing less.