Guest Blogger Ken Alex: State of the State

Ken Alex is a Senior Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.  The views expressed in this blog post are his own.

Thanks to Legal Planet, the UCLA Law Emmett Center and Environmental Law Center, and Berkeley Law Center on Law, Energy, and the Environment for letting me do the series of blogs.  Hopefully, I touched on some of the important issues and trends.  I want to note that there is a lot more to talk about, both positive and negative.

For example, high speed rail presents great opportunities if we get it right – connectivity in the Central Valley, transit oriented development giving us the change to preserve prime farm land and open space, while accommodating anticipated population growth, and a way to avoid airport expansions.  Community Choice Aggregation may provide a path for a faster conversion to renewable and local power.  And innovative financing may have us on the threshold of true cost competition for renewables across multiple power and transportation markets.

But we also face significant hurdles posed by an entrenched carbon-based economy and the intransigence of Congress and dug-in supporters of the old order.  The magnitude of the change needed remains enormous.

We are, I think, at a moment of some optimism, however.  Renewables are accelerating, electric vehicles are finally showing promise, storage is about to have its day, and California’s economy is improving.  We have a window to make real progress, and, if we do, California can set the course.

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