Jerry Brown Unveils Plan for 500,000 Green Jobs, Czar

California gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown unveiled a green jobs plan today that he says will create a half a million green jobs and will appoint a “Renewable Energy Jobs Czar.” Brown, who officially kicked off a heated race for California governor against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman at solar module maker Solaria last week, made the remarks at a meeting of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group on the Microsoft campus in Mountain View, Calif.

Brown called for an investment to create 20,000 MW of clean power along with investments in energy efficiency technology by 2020 that he says will create 500,000 green jobs. Brown’s plan includes building 12,000 MW of distributed solar photovoltaics, and 8,000 MW of large scale solar thermal, along with the necessarily transmission lines to connect solar thermal to consumers that would use it. Brown also said he wants to reduce the permitting time that it takes to get transmissions lines built for clean power (see here for the type of snags that regularly block transmission lines). “I can remove the red tape,” that is holding back the construction of transmission lines, Brown said.

Brown’s plan will also focus on developing energy storage, building efficiency, adopting stronger appliance efficiency standards, developing more co-generation and combined heat and power. Finally Brown says he will appoint a “Renewable Energy Jobs Czar,” who will be “responsible for ensuring that all energy job goals and deadlines are met.”

“California is already responsible for 60 percent of the venture capital that is creating green jobs,” said Brown, and he said the backbone of his plan is “honesty, frugality, and innovation.” We can’t reach our goals on the current track, and we need a goal of 20,000 MW of clean power to create these green jobs, said Brown.

However, the biggest point of contention in terms of clean power and the California governor race will be AB32. AB32 is the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act that calls for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. California has been developing a plan for how to reach those goals that will likely include a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions.

Whitman has called for a moratorium on parts of AB32, while Brown reiterated his support of AB32 during his speech last week. In comments during a Q&A today, Brown said that “AB32 is not a precise prescription, but it is a general mandate. There is flexibility there for the Governor, and the air resources board.” To me his comments indicate that he generally supports AB32, but would be willing to be flexible on how it is implemented.