California Plans $15 Billion Renewable Energy Initiative

Proposal estimates state will save $10-$15 billion by not buying as much natural gas.

Published: 20-Jan-2002

Sacramento, California, Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- California's newly formed power authority may spend as much as $12 billion in public and private funds to build alternative-energy plants and make government buildings and schools more energy-efficient.

Under the plan by the California Consumer Power and Conservation Financing Authority, the $5 billion in bonds the authority is allowed to sell would be leveraged to produce additional financing. The 39-page plan released today is a draft and will be used for gathering public comment, authority spokeswoman Linda Chou said.

"We are very pleased with the report," said Dan Jacobson, legislative advocate with the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group. "This report predicts a savings of between $10 billion and $15 billion over the next fifteen years" by using renewable resources rather than natural gas to produce power.

The power authority was created by California lawmakers during the height of the state's power crisis, which left California's largest utility bankrupt and its second-largest insolvent. The authority was formed to prevent the blackouts and high wholesale power prices that plagued the state last year.

Under the proposal, the authority would spend at least $5 billion by 2006 on geothermal, wind, solar and other renewable power resources, and on upgrading state and local government buildings and schools. Several financial institutions and power- plant developers, including the Federal National Mortgage Association, have said they would like to provide co-financing, the authority said.

The $5 billion in bonds, if they are issued, may be sold by the end of the year, Chou said. The authority has hired a financial adviser to explore ways other than a bond sale to finance the power plant and conservation projects, she said.

A final version of the power authority's report is due to Governor Gray Davis and the California Legislature by Feb. 15.

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