California Proposition 7, Standards for Renewable Resource Portfolios (2008)

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California Proposition 7 was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

Had Proposition 7 been approved, it would have required California utilities to procure half of their power from renewable resources by 2025. It also would have required California utilities to increase their purchase of electricity generated from renewable resources by 2% annually to meet Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements of 40% in 2020 and 50% in 2025. It would also have allowed penalties for non-compliance to be waived. Under current law, investor-owned utility companies must comply with an RPS of 20% by 2010 and there is no waiver for non-compliance.[1][2]

See Energy policy in California for a full explanation of energy policy across the state.

Election results

California Proposition 7
Defeatedd No8,155,18164.5%
Yes 4,502,235 35.5%

Turnout: 79.4% of registered

Final results from the California Secretary of State (dead link)'

Text of measure


The ballot title was:

Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute.


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 7 said:

  • Requires utilities, including government-owned utilities, to generate 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2010, a standard currently applicable only to private electrical corporations.
  • Raises requirement for utilities to 40% by 2020 and 50% by 2025.
  • Imposes penalties, subject to waiver, for noncompliance.
  • Transfers some jurisdiction of regulatory matters from Public Utilities Commission to Energy Commission.
  • Fast-tracks approval for new renewable energy plants.
  • Requires utilities to sign longer contracts (20 year minimum) to procure renewable energy.
  • Creates account to purchase rights-of-way and facilities for the transmission of renewable energy.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • Increased state administrative costs of up to $3.4 million annually for the regulatory activities of the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, paid for by fee revenues.
  • Unknown impact on state and local government costs and revenues due to the measure's uncertain impact on retail electricity rates. In the short term, the prospects for higher rates—and therefore higher costs, lower sales and income tax revenues, and higher local utility tax revenues—are more likely. In the long term, the impact on electricity rates, and therefore state and local government costs and revenues, is unknown.

Lawsuits over language

Supporters and opponents of Proposition 7 filed lawsuits in Sacramento Superior Court regarding the wording of ballot arguments in the official voter's guide.[3]

The lawsuit filed by proponents of Proposition 7 claimed that the opposition’s ballot arguments contained false and misleading statements that should be deleted. Specifically, proponents sued over the opponents claim that small renewable providers would be shut out of the market.

Noting that "In this instance, it appears that the parties have two opposing interpretations of certain amendments contained in Proposition 7. Specifically, the crux of the issue is the interpretation to be given to Public Utilities Code section 399.12 of the initiative. Each of the party’s interpretations has some support in the initiative’s text. In such a situation, the Court cannot say that Petitioner has presented clear and convincing proof that the challenged statements are false or misleading. Accordingly, the Petition is denied." Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny.

The lawsuit filed by opponents of Proposition 7 wanted the removal of three statements in the voter's guide:

  • Prop 7 will help create over 370,000 new prevailing wage jobs
  • Prop 7 prohibits the utilities from passing on their penalty costs to consumers if they fail to meet renewable energy standards
  • Prop 7 is guaranteed to never add more than 3% per year to consumer electricity bills.

The opponent's petition was denied , with Judge Kenny stating that, "The Court concludes that, again, the parties have two opposing interpretations of Proposition 7, each of which may be plausible. And, once again, the Court cannot say that Cross-Petitioner has presented clear and convincing proof that the penalty pass-on statement is misleading. Accordingly, the Court declines to issue a peremptory writ requiring amendment of the penalty pass-on statement. the opponents had not sufficiently established that those statements were misleading."



The official committee supporting Proposition 7 was called Californians for Solar and Clean Energy.

See also: List of Proposition 7 supporters

Arguments in favor

The arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • Three Nobel prize winning scientists have said that Proposition 7 provides powerful and necessary tools to reach the goals of 50% renewable energy by 2025.
  • S. David Freeman, who headed the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and who served as energy policy advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Carter, has said that: "Proposition 7 can provide us the carbon-free domestic energy that will drive our nation’s vehicles for less than $1 a gallon gasoline equivalent.”
  • Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, states that "This policy will help California make major strides in the fight against climate change, reduce our state's dependence on dirty energy and promote healthier and safer communities for generations to come."
  • It would make California the world leader in clean power technology.
  • It would help create over 370,000 new high wage jobs.
  • It meets environmental protection standards as outlined in the Warren-Alquist Act and Desert Protection Act.
  • Provides for review by local government.
  • Proposition 7 closes the loopholes in existing law that allow the utilities from escaping compliance with the RPS.
  • It requires municipally owned utilities, which are currently exempt from the RPS and are the most intensive users of coal, to also comply with the new renewable energy standards.
  • Will have no negative impact on small-scale renewables and will likely benefit small-scale renewables.
  • Provides a "feed-in tariff" for any size project, under which utilities must buy power offered by renewable energy companies that is cost-effective.
  • Strengthens penalties for utility non-compliance by eliminating the current cap on penalties imposed by the Public Utilities Commission
  • The campaign against Proposition 7 is 100% funded by the state’s three big utilities, PG&E, Southern Cal Edison, and Sempra, and it is an unfortunate betrayal to their members that a handful of mainstream environmentalists have lent their good names to help the utilities defeat an increased renewable energy mandate.
  • Dr. Donald Aitken, former lead scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, has stated: "It dismays me to see the environmentalists resorting to such tactics, and presenting arguments not based on fact, or that distort fact. And it should certainly dismay them to be in bed with the utilities, who are absolutely gleeful that they have a cover for their perennial opposition to more aggressive applications of renewable."
See also: California Proposition 7 videos

These arguments were made contesting what Proposition 7 opponents had to say:

  • Proposition 7 in no way excludes renewable energy producers of under 30 megawatts from participating in the RPS. Proposition 7 makes no changes to current law regarding what size plants qualify for the RPS. The independent, nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office rejected this claim in their analysis of the measure.
  • Proposition 7 does not lock in rates at 10% above market rate. It is deceptive for the big utilities such as PG&E, which this year alone asked for a 16% rate increase, to use this scare tactic to trick voters.
  • A Sacramento-based Republican political consulting firm that worked against affordable prescription drugs came up with the economic predictions put forth by the opponents.
  • Current law states that the only way to make amendments to a successful ballot initiative is to pass another initiative, unless a provision is included to allow it to be amended in the Legislature. Proposition7 includes such a provision, allowing it to be amended in the state legislature with a 2/3rds vote. This serves two important purposes: (1) It gives the Legislature the flexibility adjust Proposition 7 and (2) it protects the integrity of the will of the voters by not making it too easy for Legislature to gut it.


$9,360,232 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 7.[4]

Donors of $10,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Peter Sperling $9,000,0000
Jim Gonzalez/Gonzalez & Associates $356,304

Campaign consultants

Jim Gonzalez, founding partner of the political consulting firm Jim Gonzalez & Associates in Sacramento, was the initiative's campaign consultant.[5]



The official committee opposing Proposition 7 was called Californians Against Another Costly Energy Scheme, No on 7, Major funding from PG&E Corp. and So. Cal Edison Company, a coalition of environmentalists, renewable energy companies, taxpayers and labor.

  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Southern California Edison
  • Sempra
  • California Municipal Utilities Association
  • The California Democratic Party
  • The California Republican Party
  • The California Green Party
  • The California Peace & Freedom Party
  • The California Labor Federation
  • The California Taxpayers' Association
  • The League of California Cities
  • The California Solar Energy Industries Association
  • The Sierra Club of California
  • The California League of Conservation Voters
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists
See also: List of Proposition 7 opponents

Arguments against

Arguments made against Proposition 7 included:

  • Proposition 7 is so poorly written that it could hurt the cause of renewable energy in the state.[6][7][8]
  • Proposition 7 will force small wind and solar companies out of the market. It excludes renewable plants smaller than 30mw from counting towards the new requirements. Today, nearly 60% of contracts under California’s renewable requirements are with these small providers. Excluding small providers will eliminate a major source of clean power and thousands of jobs.
  • Proposition 7 contains a provision that virtually guarantees that electricity consumers will pay 10% above market rates for renewable power forever - even when the costs of solar and wind sources become more competitive. Nothing in the text of the initiative limits increases in electric bills to 3% as proponents claim.
  • Proposition 7 will cost consumers and taxpayers hundreds of millions per year in higher electric rates - a $300 increase per household per year. By eliminating competition from smaller renewable providers and creating a seller’s market that forces customers to pay 10% above market for renewable energy, Proposition 7 will increase costs to electricity consumers and taxpayers by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
  • Proposition 7 will slam the brakes on renewable energy development. It locks into law many flaws that are currently stifling renewable power development in California and creates new roadblocks to renewable development. Proposition 7 arbitrarily shifts authority over the renewables market from the California Public Utilities Commission to the California Energy Commission, which could lead to significant delays, added bureaucracy and costly lawsuits.
  • Proposition 7’s problems would be virtually impossible to fix. No changes can be made without another vote of the people or an unlikely 2/3 vote of the legislature.
See also: California Proposition 7 videos


$29,787,119 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Proposition 7.[9]

Donors of $100,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Pacific Gas & Electric $13,895,250
Edison International $13,720,250
Sempra Energy $2,104,000

Campaign consultants

As of October 31, 2008, the No on 7 campaign had paid about $437,814.12 to the campaign consulting firm of Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks; $192,562.66 to the political consulting firm Forward Observer; $89,985 to the political consulting firm Sipple: Strategic Communications; $24,375 to the political consulting firm Superoxygen Inc.; $923,557.81 to Townsend, Raimundo, Besler & Usher.[10]

As of October 31, 2008, the No on 7 campaign has spent $25,300,000 on television and radio advertising, $547,160 on polling and survey research, and $1,075,150 on slate mailers.[11]


See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.

A poll released on July 22, 2008 by Field Poll showed Proposition 7 with 63% support and 24% opposition. 82% of those surveyed had no initial awareness of Proposition 7.[12]

Month of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
July 2008 Field 63% 24% 13%
October 18-28 Field 39% 43% 18%[13]

Editorial opinion

2008 propositions
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February 5
Proposition 91Proposition 92
Proposition 93Proposition 94
Proposition 95Proposition 96
Proposition 97
June 3
Proposition 98Proposition 99
November 4
Proposition 1AProposition 2
Proposition 3Proposition 4
Proposition 5Proposition 6
Proposition 7Proposition 8
Proposition 9Proposition 10
Proposition 11Proposition 12
Local measures

"Yes on 7"

  • The Napa Valley Register[14]
  • The Santa Barbara Independent[15]
  • The Gay and Lesbian Times[16]

"No on 7"

  • Alameda Times-Star[17]
  • Bakersfield Californian[18]
  • Bay Area Reporter[19]
  • Contra Costa Times[20]
  • UC Berkeley Daily Californian[21]
  • East County Times[22]
  • Eastern Group Publications[23]
  • Fremont Argus[24]
  • Fresno Bee[25]
  • Hayward Daily Review[26]
  • Imperial Valley Press[27]
  • Inland Valley Daily Bulletin[28]
  • San Mateo County Times[50]
  • San Ramon Valley Times[51]
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel[52]
  • Santa Rosa Press Democrat[53]
  • Torrance Daily Breeze[54]
  • Tulare Advance Register[55]
  • Tri-Valley Herald[56]
  • Vacaville Reporter[57]
  • Valley Times[58]
  • Victorville Daily Press[59]
  • Visalia Times Delta[60]
  • West County Times[61]
  • Whittier Daily News[62]

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

As an initiated state statute, 433,971 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 7 for the ballot.

The petition drive to qualify the measure for the ballot was conducted by Progressive Campaigns, Inc. at a cost of $1.367 million.[63]

See also

External links

Suggest a link

Basic information



Additional reading:


  1. California Distributed Energy Resources Guide
  2. Renewable Portfolio Standard
  3. Ballot language battle could be key for Proposition 7, August 6, 2008
  4. Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on Proposition 7"
  5. [1]
  6. San Francisco Chronicle, "Surprise opponents to renewable energy measure," July 5, 2008
  7. Los Angeles Times, "Opponents say California power initiative is ill-advised", April 8, 2008
  8. "California Public Utilities Commission," "Proposition 7 - The Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008," September 11, 2008
  9. Follow the Money, "Donors to No on Proposition 7"
  10. Anti-7 expenditures
  11. Anti-7 expenditures
  12. July 22 Field Poll results on Proposition 7
  13. Field Poll for the Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2008
  14. "Napa Valley Register," "Vote Yes on Proposition 7," October 8, 2008
  15. "Santa Barbara Independent," "Prop 7: Yes," October 9, 2008
  16. "Gay and Lesbian Times," "Our Endorsements for State and Local Propositions," October 9, 2008
  17. "Alameda Times-Star," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  18. "Bakersfield Californian," "No on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  19. "Bay Area Reporter," October 14, 2008
  20. "Contra Costa Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  21. "Daily Californian," "The Daily Californian General Election Endorsements, November 2008," October 28, 2008
  22. "East County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  23. "Eastern Group Publications," “November 4, 2008 Ballot Recommendations: Part 1,” October 16, 2008
  24. "Fremont Argus," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  25. "Fresno Bee," "Vote no on Props. 7 and 10: The fine print makes both measures disingenuous," October 7, 2008
  26. "Hayward Daily Review," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  27. "Imperial Valley Press," "Noble Trend Isn't Sound," July 10, 2008
  28. "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin," “The green vote on this measure is 'no'. Our view: Initiative's feel-good message doesn't compensate for its flaws" October 21, 2008
  29. "La Opinion," "Two mesures to reject," October 18, 2008
  30. "Long Beach Press-Telegram," "Proposition 7: A costly energy scheme," October 3, 2008
  31. "Los Angeles Daily News," October 16, 2008
  32. "Los Angeles Times," "No on Proposition 7: Even environmental groups see problems with this initiative to increase renewable energy," September 19, 2008
  33. "Malibu Times," October 15, 2008
  34. "Merced Sun Star," "Our View: Propositions 7 and 10 won't clean up environment," October 14, 2008
  35. "Modesto Bee," "Let’s go green, but Props. 7 and 10 won’t get us there," October 6, 2008
  36. "Oakland Tribune," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  37. "Orange County Register," “California Proposition 7 Editorial: A energy-fraud twofer”, September 30, 2008
  38. Pasadena Star News, "Vote No on Proposition 7"
  39. "Redding Record-Searchlight," "Proposition 7 wrongly rushes forward on green energy"
  40. "Ridgecrest Daily Independent," "Proposition 7: another flawed measure," October 27, 2008
  41. "Riverside Press-Enterprise," "No on 7," September 11, 2008
  42. "Sacramento Bee," October 9, 2008
  43. "San Bernardino Sun," “The green vote on this measure is 'no'. Our view: Initiative's feel-good message doesn't compensate for its flaws" October 21, 2008
  44. "San Diego City Beat," "Our Endorsements: Proposition 7," October 17, 2008
  45. [ "San Diego Union-Tribune," "No on Props 7 and 10: Energy measures are ill-Conceived fiascoes," September 12, 2008]
  46. The San Francisco Bay Guardian," Proposition 7, Renewable-energy generation -- NO," October 8, 2008
  47. The San Francisco Chronicle, "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 5, 2008
  48. "San Gabriel Valley Tribune," “Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 7”, Octobe r 12, 2008
  49. San Jose Mercury News, "No is the green vote on Proposition 7," September 13, 2008
  50. "San Mateo County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  51. "San Ramon Valley Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  52. "Santa Cruz Sentinel," “As We See It: Vote no on 'green' measures, 7 and 10," September 18, 2008
  53. "Santa Rosa Press Democrat," "No on Proposition 7," September 25, 2008
  54. "Long Beach Press-Telegram," "Proposition 7: A costly energy scheme," October 3, 2008
  55. "Tulare Advance Register," “Prop 7: High energy risk,” October 28, 2008
  56. "Tri-Valley Herald," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  57. "Vacaville Reporter," “Good idea, poor grade: Vote no on Proposition 7,” October 23, 2008
  58. "Valley Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  59. "Victorville Daily Press," “Energy Fraud”, October 1, 2008
  60. "Visalia Times Delta," “Prop 7: High energy risk,” October 28, 2008
  61. "West County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
  62. "Whittier Daily News," “Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 7”, October 12, 2008
  63. Campaign expenditure details