Energy Pathways for the California Economy

June 1, 2009
David Roland-Holst, UC Berkeley

Over the last four years, California has taken unprecedented initiative to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, as the state moves to implement the AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan, the world is in the grips of a global financial crisis, and Californians face an unprecedented multibillion-dollar state budget deficit. The short- and long-term implications of this state fiscal situation are daunting – some predict a dramatic exodus of businesses, loss of jobs and erosion of academic prowess.

Within this context, Energy Pathways for the California Economy evaluates the state’s energy demand and supply horizons, and the economic impact of accelerating deployment of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency trends in California.

Top findings: 

  • From electricity to transportation, projecting status quo demand and supply horizons portends ever greater reliance on out-of-state fuel sources, and therefore greater exposure to fuel price volatility.
  • Five alternative forecasting scenario shows that the faster and farther California can improve household and enterprise energy efficiency, while accelerating deployment of renewable energy resources, the faster the state economy will grow and create jobs. The most ambitious scenario (50 percent renewable energy; 1.5 percent annual efficiency increases) produces the largest number of additional jobs and income -- generating half a million new FTE jobs with over $100 billion in cumulative payrolls over 40 years.
  • Renewable energy generation is more job-intensive than the traditional carbon fuel supply chain, captures more benefits within the state economy, and reduces our vulnerability to uncertain global energy markets.