Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the states, California boasted over half a million advanced energy jobs. In just a few months time, the state lost more than 100,000 of those jobs. As policymakers now grapple with plugging a $54 billion budget deficit, keeping local communities afloat, and upholding the state’s marquee policies, the stakes could not be higher. Given uncertainty around any federal stimulus package, AEE is providing California decision makers with recommendations for actions they could take now to move the state to economic recovery, with advanced energy at its center. That’s because advanced energy is a tried-and-true engine of economic growth, in California most of all.
As a result of its forward-leaning energy and climate policies, California is the nation’s leader in advanced energy revenue and jobs. Now faced with the challenge of rebooting the state’s economy after the coronavirus shutdown, California should look to advanced energy as a key focus for economic stimulus – and especially look to advanced transportation as a way to boost the economy and also address the air quality and mobility concerns of our most vulnerable citizens.
To that end, AEE has sent a set of recommendations to the Governor’s Office, legislative leadership, regulators, state agency officials, and the Governor’s Task Force on Jobs and Business Recovery. Developed with our industry members and cognizant of decision makers’ focus on no- or low-cost actions, these recommendations would stimulate the economy while moving California toward its long-term energy and climate goals. AEE’s recommendations include:
- Immediate, no cost actions to accelerate advanced energy and transportation projects
- Innovative finance strategies to better utilize the state’s financing capacity and existing resources
- Ideas for impactful investments if federal stimulus dollars materialize down the road, and/or a state stimulus package comes to fruition
In these recommendations, we offer specific tools and procedural fixes to streamline project review, permitting, and interconnection processes, cutting the red tape that stands in the way of projects that are ready for construction now. Additionally, our recommendations focus on transitioning the state to zero-emission transportation, with programmatic reforms and strategies to fix the chronic funding challenges for programs that accelerate the adoption of ZEV trucks and vehicles and make clean transit options available throughout the state. Our recommendations also offer infrastructure investments the state can partner on with private entities to strengthen community resilience and equip cash-strapped school districts and other community hubs to prepare for wildfire emergencies and Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) events. These include electric school buses, microgrid development, and onsite energy efficiency and solar-plus-storage upgrades.
Hand in hand with these initial recommendations, AEE is voicing support for advanced energy investments to be included in an economic recovery bond being discussed in the Capitol. AEE is providing input to legislative offices and others to inform any package to be put forward this year. Together with our members, we stand ready to work with decision makers in the executive branch and legislature on a recovery plan that harnesses the innovative strengths of this state, transforms local economies, and meets the needs of all Californians.