Our green-energy future

Why does Dan Logue ignore the state’s success in attracting cleantech investors?

The October issue of The Atlantic magazine includes an interesting article, “The California Experiment,” by Ronald Brownstein. The title refers to what the author sees—in the midst of “busted budgets, failing schools, overcrowded prisons, gridlocked government”—as the state’s singular success: tackling climate change and, in doing so, creating a new energy economy.

In part because of the state’s efforts, California uses 40 percent less energy, emits only half as much carbon per dollar of economic activity, and gets more of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass than the rest of the country.

It also, Brownstein writes, “registers more patents associated with clean energy than any other state and attracts most of the venture capital invested in U.S. ‘cleantech’ companies exploring everything from electric cars to solar power generation.” From 2005 through 2008, “the amount of venture capital flowing into cleantech start-up companies in California exploded from about $456 million a year to $3.3 billion.”

We’re seeing an example of that in Oroville, where the BayTEC Alliance on Monday opened the doors of its new Cleantech Innovation Center, offering a first glimpse of the public/private venture that seeks to bring green-energy businesses to Butte County.

As I read Brownstein’s article, I kept thinking of our local assemblyman, Dan Logue. He’s been gallivanting around the state—and even to Nevada—pointing out how bad California is for business, but he never talks about its success with green energy.

Logue has even gone so far as to draft legislation to repeal AB 32, the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 is one of many bills that, by setting strong energy- and emissions-reduction goals, have encouraged investors to jump into the green-energy field. Logue’s effort is seriously misguided. He’d do California business more good by sincerely looking for regulations that need reconsideration, rather than attacking the laws that are leading California into the future.

Speaking of green energy: With this issue, we’re saying good-bye to Greg Kallio and Lori Brown, the two Chico State professors who have been alternately authoring the “Sustainable Space” column in our GreenWays section. Space considerations are forcing us to phase out the column almost exactly a year after it began.

The idea behind it was to explore the issues of energy efficiency and global warming as they related to the buildings we live and work in.

How, we wondered, could we construct more “sustainable spaces”?

I recently went back and reread a number of the columns, and I was impressed by the depth and breadth of the authors’ knowledge and their ability to write about what’s going on at the cutting edge of construction.

We’ve encouraged Greg and Lori to publish the columns separately or put them on a blog, so readers can take advantage of them in the future. And we thank them for their terrific contribution to the CN&R.