One solution for California would be the expansion of its efforts across the region and the nation, to spur the creation of a full-scale renewable resource-based power grid, to optimize both generative capacity and distribution. The question is, now that the decision has been made to shift toward renewables, how can California go beyond the 1/3 threshold and build a strong renewable-energy export economy?
Part of California’s renewables build-up process might well be, as Gov. Schwarzenegger suggests, a dynamic market in which renewable resourced energy is imported into the state. But part of California’s goal in doing this, admittedly, is to depend less on the volatility of imported energy. So there will have to be a major shift in the investment of public funds toward renewables infrastructure, within the state.
Keeping costs low is a priority, because to not bring down the costs of power generation for Californians means an already economically overstressed state will see itself pushed to the brink, as prolonged malaise—stemming from reduced consumer spending, sluggish credit markets and falling property values, and skyrocketing healthcare costs—nudges more families and small businesses toward bankruptcy.
To keep costs low, the state will have to both provide subsidies and channel federal green energy and infrastructure subsidies to new renewable energy-related projects. An end result of both building aggressively in-state and importing aggressively from out of state will be a significant reduction in the cost of renewable resourced energy, over time, and the eventual capacity to export a significant amount of energy from renewable resources. This will give California a competitive edge in the coming age of battery-powered rechargeable vehicles (EV) and mandates for emissions reductions.
Building and investing now for that later competitive edge will help the state and its residents (and businesses) save money later, when there is no longer any leeway in choosing between renewables and carbon-based fuels. What’s more, California-based Tesla Motors will be releasing the most high-performance EV fleet ever built, for the mass commercial market, in a one to two-year time-frame. Having achieved not only that goal, but also having successfully integrated a robust renewable resource-based power grid with a network of EV “filling stations”, would put California at the global forefront for clean energy economic development.
This is more than just a fashionable claim the state could make in search of green subsidies and good PR: building a robust renewable resource economy could allow California to become one of the first major exporters of a top-priority commodity in the economic matrix of coming decades: electricity with little to zero environmental impact, a resource that will have not just moral and legal value, but economic incentives tied to it.