California Proposition 7, Standards for Renewable Resource Portfolios (2008)
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.,
|California Proposition 7|
Turnout: 79.4% of registered
- Final results from the California Secretary of State
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
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.
- 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. 
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.
- Dr. Donald Aitken, former Chief of Research at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- S. David Freeman, author of "Winning Our Energy Independence"
- Finn Kydland, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics in 2007
- The Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara
- Alicia Wang, vice-chair of the California Democratic Party
- Christine Pelosi, former Executive Director of the Democratic Party
- Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union
- Tom Hayden, American social and political activist and politician.
- 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 Tennesee 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, non-partisan 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.
Donors of $10,000 or more were:
|Jim Gonzalez/Gonzalez & Associates||$356,304|
Jim Gonzalez, founding partner of the political consulting firm Jim Gonzalez & Associates in Sacramento, was the initiative's campaign consultant. 
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.
- See also: List of Proposition 7 opponents
Arguments made against Proposition 7 included:
- Proposition 7 is so poorly written that it could hurt the cause of renewable energy in the state. 
- 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.
Donors of $100,000 or more were:
|Pacific Gas & Electric||$13,895,250|
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.
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. 
- See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
|Month of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided|
"Yes on 7"
"No on 7"
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.
- Official Voter's Guide to Proposition 7
- PDF of the mailed November 4, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 7
- November 4, 2008 ballot proposition election returns
- Proposition 7 in the Smart Voter Guide
- Analysis of Proposition 7 from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 7 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against Proposition 7 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 7 from Follow The Money
- University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law: Legal Analysis of Proposition 7, California Initiative Review
- Sacramento Bee Ballot Watch for Proposition 7
- Yes on Prop 7, website of supporters.
- Solar & Clean Energy Initiative campaign committee Details of income and expenditures
- Supporter funding sources
- "The Santa Barbara Independent Global Warming in a Time of Economic Meltdown Invest in Alternative Energies"
- "LA Times Proposition 7: Clean Energy for California "
- "The Santa Cruz Sentinel Proposition 7 raises the bar on renewable energy"
- Beyond Chron Politics of Money and Fear
- "Propositioning Downtown: Where We Stand on the Issues"
- The Big Utilities' Green Halo
- The Santa Barbara Independent Proposition 7 Is a Serious Tool for Producing Much-Needed Renewable Energy"
- Propositioning Downtown: Where we stand on the issues
- "Tellin it"
- "Prop 7: 50% by 2025...Let’s Set an Example for America and the World"
- "Chasing Clean Air"
- "Confused in Solar California, a blog dedicated to finding out what's up with all the inexplicable opposition to Proposition 7"
- It ain't easy legislating green, Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2008
- California voters may toughen renewal targets, Reuters, April 8, 2008
- Energy Department Says Wind Energy Could Be Savior, San Francisco Chronicle, May 13, 2008
- Geothermal Markets are heating up Energy Current May 5, 2008
- Energy bill a step back for clean power, opponents say
- Prop 7 pits opponents
- 2 energy propositions flawed, critics say, San Francisco Chronicle.
- Political winds buffet California measures on energy, Sacramento Bee, September 15, 2008.
- Officials: "No" is green vote on risky energy proposition
- A charged debate over Proposition 7 renewable energy plan
- Proposition 7: Renewable Energy Targets for All Utilities – NO
- California PHOTON: Prop 7 Analysis
- ↑ California Distributed Energy Resources Guide
- ↑ Renewable Portfolio Standard
- ↑ Ballot language battle could be key for Proposition 7, August 6, 2008
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on Proposition 7"
- ↑ 
- ↑ San Francisco Chronicle, "Surprise opponents to renewable energy measure", July 5, 2008
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Opponents say California power initiative is ill-advised", April 8, 2008
- ↑ "California Public Utilities Commission", "Proposition 7 - The Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008", September 11, 2008
- ↑ Follow the Money, "Donors to No on Proposition 7"
- ↑ Anti-7 expenditures
- ↑ Anti-7 expenditures
- ↑ July 22 Field Poll results on Proposition 7
- ↑ Field Poll for the Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2008
- ↑ "Napa Valley Register", "Vote Yes on Proposition 7", October 8, 2008
- ↑ "Santa Barbara Independent", "Prop 7: Yes", October 9, 2008
- ↑ "Gay and Lesbian Times", "Our Endorsements for State and Local Propositions", October 9, 2008
- ↑ "Alameda Times-Star," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Bakersfield Californian," "No on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Bay Area Reporter," October 14, 2008
- ↑ "Contra Costa Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Daily Californian," "The Daily Californian General Election Endorsements, November 2008," October 28, 2008
- ↑ "East County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Eastern Group Publications," “November 4, 2008 Ballot Recommendations: Part 1,” October 16, 2008
- ↑ "Fremont Argus," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Fresno Bee", "Vote no on Props. 7 and 10: The fine print makes both measures disingenuous", October 7, 2008
- ↑ "Hayward Daily Review," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Imperial Valley Press", "Noble Trend Isn't Sound", July 10, 2008
- ↑ "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
- ↑ "La Opinion," "Two mesures to reject," October 18, 2008
- ↑ "Long Beach Press-Telegram," "Proposition 7: A costly energy scheme," October 3, 2008
- ↑ "Los Angeles Daily News," October 16, 2008
- ↑ "Los Angeles Times", "No on Proposition 7: Even environmental groups see problems with this initiative to increase renewable energy", September 19, 2008
- ↑ "Malibu Times," October 15, 2008
- ↑ "Merced Sun Star", "Our View: Propositions 7 and 10 won't clean up environment", October 14, 2008
- ↑ "Modesto Bee," "Let’s go green, but Props. 7 and 10 won’t get us there," October 6, 2008
- ↑ "Oakland Tribune," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Orange County Register," “California Proposition 7 Editorial: A energy-fraud twofer”, September 30, 2008
- ↑ Pasadena Star News, "Vote No on Proposition 7"
- ↑ "Redding Record-Searchlight", "Proposition 7 wrongly rushes forward on green energy"
- ↑ "Ridgecrest Daily Indepedent," "Proposition 7: another flawed measure," October 27, 2008
- ↑ "Riverside Press-Enterprise", "No on 7", September 11, 2008
- ↑ "Sacramento Bee," October 9, 2008
- ↑ "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
- ↑ "San Diego City Beat," "Our Endorsements: Proposition 7," October 17, 2008
- ↑ [http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/op-ed/editorial2/20080912-9999-lz1ed12bottom.html "San Diego Union-Tribune", "No on Props 7 and 10: Energy measures are ill-Conceived fiascoes", September 12, 2008]
- ↑ The San Francisco Bay Guardian", Proposition 7, Renewable-energy generation -- NO", October 8, 2008
- ↑ The San Francisco Chronicle, "Vote no on Proposition 7", October 5, 2008
- ↑ "San Gabriel Valley Tribune," “Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 7”, Octobe r 12, 2008
- ↑ San Jose Mercury News, "No is the green vote on Proposition 7", September 13, 2008
- ↑ "San Mateo County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "San Ramon Valley Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Santa Cruz Sentinel", “As We See It: Vote no on 'green' measures, 7 and 10", September 18, 2008
- ↑ "Santa Rosa Press Democrat", "No on Proposition 7", September 25, 2008
- ↑ "Long Beach Press-Telegram," "Proposition 7: A costly energy scheme," October 3, 2008
- ↑ "Tulare Advance Register," “Prop 7: High energy risk,” October 28, 2008
- ↑ "Tri-Valley Herald," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Vacaville Reporter," “Good idea, poor grade: Vote no on Proposition 7,” October 23, 2008
- ↑ "Valley Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Victorville Daily Press," “Energy Fraud”, October 1, 2008
- ↑ "Visalia Times Delta," “Prop 7: High energy risk,” October 28, 2008
- ↑ "West County Times," "Vote no on Proposition 7," October 2, 2008
- ↑ "Whittier Daily News," “Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 7”, October 12, 2008
- ↑ Campaign expenditure details