PG&E bankruptcy will test California’s climate goals

A view of Los Angeles and its smog. (Photo: IM_Photo, via Shutterstock)

“PG&E, that company no longer exists.”

Those were the words of Gov. Gavin Newsom as he reaffirmed his demand that PG&E come out of bankruptcy completely transformed.

With that in mind, it is important that state leaders stay firm on their resolve that PG&E is restructured in a way that both hardens our electrical grid and keeps our commitments to California’s climate and clean energy goals.

Right now is no time to walk back on our climate change commitments.

recent report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office confirmed that California’s policies have been substantial drivers to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector. In fact, annual emissions from the electricity sector have decreased by about 40 percent since 2006.

But there is much more work to do.

According to the California Green Innovation Index California needs to pick up the pace of its emissions reductions in order to meet its climate goals at the end of this decade. It projects that at our current rate of reductions, California won’t meet its 2030 goals until 2061 – more than thirty years behind schedule.

Right now is no time to walk back on our climate change commitments.

So far, the plan produced to pull PG&E out of bankruptcy includes assurances the utility’s renewable energy commitments will remain intact.

Gov.  Newsom has also stood firm on the fact that any plan for PG&E’s future must protect California’s clean energy goals.

“Californians deserve world-class utilities that prioritize safety and affordability, entities that will lead the world in green innovation and zero-carbon growth,” wrote Newsom in a Medium post in November. “That will continue to be the priority of our state and my Administration.”

The Legislature, for its part, has stood fast with Gov. Newsom on this commitment. In the last days of session in 2019, legislators overwhelmingly supported a resolution by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) calling on the state to protect our clean energy goals during PG&E’s bankruptcy.

Words and resolutions will soon be tested, however, by policy and legal memorandums as the bankruptcy court and California Public Utilities Commission work towards resolving PG&E’s bankruptcy by the June 30 deadline. As the common saying goes, the devil will be in the details.

Gov. Newsom’s January budget proposal included plans for $12.5 billion to address the climate crisis head-on. While new programs to fight climate change are essential, it’s equally important that we keep our existing commitments in place for producing clean energy and reducing emissions.

The governor and the Legislature have signaled their commitments to our clean energy future. California should stand behind them.

Editor’s Note: Matt Cate is the executive director of the Alliance for Climate Resistant California. Susie Wong is the president & CEO of Asians in Energy.

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