Passage of SB 350 to Bring Massive New Construction Job Creation for Renewable Energy

September 16, 2015 - The passage of Senate Bill 350 in the closing moments of the 2015 legislative session last week is fantastic news for Building and Construction Trades workers in California. The legislation, strongly supported by the California Building Trades, increases the percentage of California’s energy that must be from renewable sources from 33 to 50 percent over the next 15 years. That creates an immediate demand for the construction of new renewable power plants—solar, wind and geothermal—along with transmission lines to tap into other sources that this bill now mandates must be built under prevailing wage. California’s Building Trades workers will now go to work by the thousands building those plants.

In addition to new generation, SB 350 requires new consideration of “large scale storage,” which means that projects such as the 1,300-megawatt Eagle Mountain (which has a PLA with the Building Trades) and 500-megawatt San Vicente pumped storage will likely be built.

SBCTC President Robbie Hunter stated: “SB 350 is one of the largest job-creating bills in many years. By increasing the renewable requirement from 33% to 50% it creates a giant new market for renewable energy power plants.”

This terrific news has been largely obscured by another controversial portion of the legislation—requiring a 50 percent reduction in petroleum consumption—that was removed prior to the final vote. That change was portrayed in media coverage as a great defeat for the author, Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, and for Governor Jerry Brown’s ambitious renewable energy agenda.

But in fact, the final legislation is still a giant leap toward a cleaner and healthier California and massive job creation. In spite of the generally negative news coverage, one newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, did publish a positive story vividly outlining the job-creating benefits of the new standards. An industry expert is quoted saying the legislation’s clear message to the clean energy industry is “Continue Hiring. Continue Growing.” That story is here:



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