Movers and shakers from throughout the State descended on Sacramento yesterday to see Jerry Brown become California’s 39th Governor. You could feel the excitement in the long line that snaked around K Street into the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for his inauguration.
Our new Governor didn’t disappoint. His 16-minute inaugural speech was energetic and frank. He provided a brutally honest assessment of our broken political process and told an uplifting story about his wife’s ancestors, a courageous lineage of pioneers who settled in California.
Brown speech—to no one’s surprise—centered on the budget. He spoke passionately about the need to transcend Sacramento’s partisan political culture and stop using “delay and denial” when making tough budget choices.
He laid out three principles for his budget proposal:
- Speak the truth on budget challenges
- No new taxes without the vote of the people
- Bring authority closer to the people (aka “realigning” core government responsibilities to local governments)
In a speech that didn’t delve into specifics, it’s notable that Brown singled out clean energy policy as a great economic opportunity for California. Expanding investment in cleaner energy, he said, can help lead us out of the state’s 10th recession since World War II.
He mentioned one of the boldest pieces of his campaign’s energy platform: generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy— enough electricity to power 15 million homes. Brown said that “sensible and bold decisions” were needed to reach this audacious goal and that we have to focus on the right “laws and rules” to meet it.
Brown’s priority on clean energy reflects a strong mandate voiced by voters, state leaders and private-sector investors:
- In soundly rejecting the Dirty Energy Proposition (Prop 23) two months ago, voters reaffirmed their support for California’s approach to securing a clean energy future, improving air quality, creating jobs and competing in the next industrial revolution, a global market that is estimated to be valued at $8 trillion.
- Leaders in the Assembly and Senate have strong track records as clean energy champions and are eager to advance energy solutions.
- The private sector sees the potential of clean energy: $10 billion in clean tech funding has flowed into California since AB 32 passed in 2006—almost half of all domestic clean energy investments.
Governor Brown’s leadership—combined with these factors—opens a great window of opportunity for California to break new ground in energy. To paraphrase a 1980s one-hit-wonder, “the future’s so bright (for California clean energy), you gotta wear shades.”
This post originally appeared in the SF Chronicle's City Brights blog.