Nancy Pfund: Jerry Brown should not back down on energy standards

Gov. Brown, Don't Back Down on Clean Energy Standards

San Jose Mercury News
February 1, 2013

DBL Part­ners’ Man­ag­ing Part­ner Nancy Pfund placed an arti­cle in today’s San Jose Mer­cury News.  The link to the piece is here.  The con­tent is recre­ated below.

When I took home my new Tesla Model S last June, I learned what it meant to be a celebrity. Not me, mind you, my car.

Long-​​lost friends emailed me, com­plete strangers high-​​fived me, and I started writ­ing myself reminders to “give so-​​and-​​so a ride in the Model S.”

Dri­ving this sleek sedan is a priv­i­lege I don’t take for granted. And thanks in large part to California’s vision­ary energy and vehi­cle stan­dards, the Model S — which trav­els up to 300 miles per charge, with min­i­mal impact on our air and cli­mate — offers a glimpse of our auto­mo­tive future. While it’s a premium-​​priced car, future mod­els will be increas­ingly acces­si­ble. Our state can be a mecca for this job-​​creating new e-​​vehicle industry.

As an investor, I’m excited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties, and as a Cal­i­forn­ian, I’m proud. After see­ing Gov. Jerry Brown last June share in the excite­ment of the Model S launch in Fre­mont, I believe he is equally opti­mistic about our state’s clean energy future.

Unfor­tu­nately, Brown is being pres­sured heav­ily by inter­est groups that want to weaken clean air laws, par­tic­u­larly the Low Car­bon Fuel Stan­dard (LCSF), signed as an exec­u­tive order by Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger in 2007. The stan­dard is aimed at reduc­ing the trans­porta­tion sector’s green­house gas emis­sions while boost­ing California’s grow­ing clean energy industry.

After an exten­sive reg­u­la­tory process, the fuel stan­dard took effect in Jan­u­ary 2011. It requires that fuel providers grad­u­ally reduce the car­bon inten­sity of their fuels and lets them meet the stan­dard through a vari­ety of strate­gies, includ­ing offer­ing advanced bio­fu­els or nat­ural gas, improv­ing pro­duc­tion tech­niques or buy­ing cred­its for elec­tric­ity used to fuel vehi­cles such as the Tesla.

In the future, it may allow for excit­ing syn­er­gies. Con­sider the rapid progress of the pop­u­lar Cal­i­for­nia Solar Ini­tia­tive, which pro­vides state res­i­dents of all income lev­els with grad­u­ally decreas­ing incen­tives to install solar pan­els. This month, Cal­i­for­nia passed the 1 Gigawatt mark, hav­ing installed enough solar power, in tens of thou­sands of homes and busi­nesses, to match the out­put of a nuclear reactor.

 Thanks to the solar ini­tia­tive and the inno­v­a­tive fuel stan­dard, the day shouldn’t be far off when res­i­dents will be able to solar-​​charge their elec­tric cars at home and even sell the clean energy cred­its pro­duced in the process, reduc­ing their energy costs even fur­ther. That would be a win-​​win-​​win-​​win for con­sumers, work­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers, and of course the environment.Energy tran­si­tions are never easy. Many of our energy laws, but par­tic­u­larly the low car­bon stan­dard, have met resis­tance from parts of the fos­sil fuel indus­try, even though fos­sil fuels have ben­e­fited from their own spe­cial sub­si­dies for decades.Obviously, not all oil com­pa­nies are going to embrace this pol­icy. Over time, how­ever, forward-​​thinking busi­nesses will trans­form them­selves into energy com­pa­nies with a more climate-​​friendly array of prod­ucts. That’s why it’s in everyone’s inter­ests to level the play­ing field for clean fuel technologies.

Brown has been ahead of the curve for decades on clean and effi­cient energy pol­icy. Now, more than ever, our gov­er­nor has the oppor­tu­nity to dou­ble down on his sup­port for the fuel stan­dard and our other impor­tant clean energy laws. Investors need a strong mar­ket sig­nal to start dri­ving the clean indus­tries of the future. Not to men­tion some very cool cars.