Consumers Union Supports SB 350, Touts Consumer and Public Health Benefits


Senior Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment

By Shannon Baker-Branstetter on Monday, August 24th, 2015

Consumers Union sent the following letter in support of SB 350, which sets the 50-50-50 target to boost clean energy and efficiency in our homes and transportation.

Re: SUPPORT for SB 350 (De León and Leno) Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015

Dear Senator de León:

Consumers Union reiterates its strong support for SB 350 and the financial and health benefits its 50-50-50 framework is likely to deliver for Californian consumers.  The oil industry’s misleading opposition requires us to underscore how this bill would promote greater choices, cleaner options, and more long-term savings for consumers.

SB 350’s first target to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard from 33% by 2020 to 50% by 2030 builds upon the remarkable progress that California has already made to ramp up renewable energy. Thanks to California policy, technological improvements and economies of scale, costs of renewable power generation in California are often competitive with or cheaper than fossil fuel-based power plants. In addition to more stable and lower operating costs, increasing renewables’ share helps reduce air pollution, which saves lives and reduces missed work days and healthcare costs.  However, managing greater renewable capacity will require more sophisticated demand response, coordination and energy storage.  Therefore, setting renewable targets well in advance aligns utility investments and efficiency programs for a smooth transition toward a more reliable, cleaner, and smarter grid.

SB 350’s second target to reduce petroleum use by 50% by 2030 provides financial, public health, and quality of life benefits for consumers. There are many practical approaches to reach this goal, most of which California has already started.  As vehicles become more fuel efficient and neighborhoods better designed, transportation costs decline.  Promoting the availability of less expensive alt-fuel choices saves consumers money on their fuel bills, which they can then spend on other goods and services in the California.  On the public health front, this initiative will be an enormous help in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, smog-forming pollution, and cancer-causing diesel particulate matter.  Improving traffic flows and enhancing mobility options also help consumers avoid wasting time in traffic, which drains productivity and takes away from personally fulfilling and healthier activities.

SB 350’s third target to cut energy use in buildings by 50% by 2030 is also a boon to consumers.  More efficient homes, appliances and electronics save consumers billions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bills.  Efficient homes are more comfortable because they are better insulated and the desired temperature is more uniform, keeping seniors and other vulnerable populations safer from extreme outside temperatures.  In addition, improved efficiency strengthens reliability of the grid and reduces the burden on the electric system, especially during peak demand.  Reducing energy use minimizes the need for additional power plants, avoiding associated air pollution and lowering electricity costs overall.

SB 350 supports a much-needed transition to a cleaner, better, and more diverse energy supply in California and beyond.  Thank you for your strong leadership.



Shannon Baker-Branstetter

Policy Counsel, Consumers Union

4 responses to “Consumers Union Supports SB 350, Touts Consumer and Public Health Benefits”

  1. Brent Ekstrand says:

    The air in Southern Califonia used to be much worse. The smog was so bad that it hurt to breathe on bad days. Visibility was only a few miles. Regulation restricting emissions helped improve the air dramatically and did not ruin the economy, despite hysterical pronouncements by self-styled experts back then. We see the same today. It is just fear and ignorance showing itself once again. We will all benefit in a future where energy is generated primarily from the sun and stored in efficient lithium cells. We should, as a nation, fund a “Manhattan Project” level of effort to improve solar and battery technologies to make them as efficient as possible. This could bring many high paying jobs here to the USA, help clean the environment over time, and save individuals a lot of money (unless Big Oil somehow purchases rights to all sunlight). The only people that are against this are those who profit from dirty, inefficient carbon/based energy sources, and the politicians they bribe. We as a nation can make this happen. It is this generation’s moon shot.


  2. James M. Ware says:

    Dear Ms. Baker-Branstetter,
    I’m very glad that the Consumers Union is supporting the SB 350. Despite the uninformed comments above which have obviously been influenced by the carbon based fuel industry I believe the only chance our children have to live a life without drought, famine and flooding will be clean and fossil fuel free economy. I’m a believer in the Edward Mazria 2030 challenge. Although this won’t quite get us there it is definitely a step in the right direction.
    Thanks so much for your efforts,
    James Ware, AIA, LEED AP

  3. Patrick J Quinn says:

    You say You are not political. Nonsense! (although another word comes to mind). This is nothing more than a power grab by Washington to control every aspect of our lives; and, at the same time ruin our economy (as our president desires!). Keep this up, and, I am long gone as a customer. It is falsehoods like this as to why I no longer donate.

  4. Christopher G. Kind says:

    Dear Ma’am,
    Please refrain from describing your support of SB 350 as “promoting greater choices, cleaner options, and more long-term savings for consumers.” In reality, it does none of these things. What it will do is increase the cost of energy for regular Americans and businesses, create a larger, more controlling, bureaucracy within the EPA and limit the variety of choices consumers have for access to efficient, clean energy. Several scientific studies show that even if the United States ended all fossil fuel production today, the results to the quality of the atmosphere would be miniscule and not measurably improve air quality. In the future, please try to look past your faith in the Global Climate Change hysteria when influencing public support of political talking-points.
    Thanks, Chris

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