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Proposition 7: The Debate Over Renewable Energy

October 30, 2008

Sacramento, CA - Sacramento, CA – A wolf in "green" sheep's clothing? Some environmentalists think so. They're warning voters to look twice at Proposition 7 on Tuesday, because what they see isn't what they'll get.

Proposition 7 aims to boost the state's clean power by requiring California utilities to generate half of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal by the year 2025. But California's major environmental groups oppose Prop 7 because they think it will make it harder to meet the state's renewable energy goals.

David Pettit, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the initiative would exclude small wind and solar companies that currently produce nearly two-thirds of the state's renewable energy.

"If Prop 7 passes, they won't count, and in fact anything under 30 megawatts won't count. That's going to basically destroy the small-solar industry literally overnight."

Pettit says a fundamental problem is that Prop 7 allows providers to charge 10 percent above the market price for power, which he says will stifle competition and ultimately increase prices for the consumer.

"Instead of competing to provide renewable resources at the lowest price, which is good for the consumer, everyone's going to come in at market plus 10. If that has any effect at all on prices they'll go up, not down."

Pettit also questions where the new renewable energy stations and transmission power lines will be placed. If Prop 7 passes, local municipalities will not have a say, which he fears will lead to litigation.

Prop 7 supporters contend it would make California the world leader in clean power technology and help create more than 370,000 jobs.

More information is available at

Lori Abbott/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CA