What does this mean for California? A lot, and far beyond the rooftop solar panels you see popping up in your neighborhoods. The defeat of Prop 23 sent a strong message that Californians want California to lead in cleantech. The tallies on election night not only meant that there is a mandate for renewable energy, but also, that there is both an appetite for and support of increased cleantech innovation.
Cleantech creates opportunity, not only to do something environmentally responsible, but also to create jobs. At a time when our state unemployment rate hovers around a frightening 12%, the tech sector continues to grow (as much as 62% growth in Silicon Valley this year). Cleantech innovation is happening all over California: it’s happening at Cisco, where tele-presence innovation will revolutionize environmentally responsible telecommuting. It’s happening in the Mojave Desert where NRG and BrightSource are building the largest solar field to date. Innovation is not just happening at big companies: California start-ups are the backbone of this industry. Cool Lumens is manufacturing LED skylights that dramatically lower electricity consumption in large commercial spaces like warehouse stores and ChloriFill is making fiberboard out of agricultural waste.
California is the innovation engine of the world and Californian’s believe that technology will lead the way to recovery from this crippling recession. The smart money agrees as forty percent of all cleantech venture dollars land in California and cleantech is the #1 focus of the VC community according to Pepperdine’s business school. The resounding defeat of Prop 23 sent yet another strong message that voters want to continue this tradition of leadership in innovation.
Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the California clean tech revolution. The Environmental Defense Fund credits LA with hosting the most cleantech companies in the State, including, thanks to City leadership, the forthcoming BYD North American HQ. The EPA lists LA as having the most Energy Star-rated buildings in the country. LADWP, in partnership with IBEW Local 18, leads the state and country in the transition to renewable energy and it is accomplishing that feat almost entirely with existing infrastructure. It’s no wonder that on election night nearly 70% of LA County voters stood up-against Texas and for California innovation.