President of Southern California Edison (SCE) Pedro Pizarro spoke at Pollock Theater on Monday about the electric utility company’s plans for a more eco-friendly future.
Governor Jerry Brown introduced a bill in October requiring half of California’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030; SCE, one of the largest electricity companies in Southern California, plans to adjust these demands. Pizarro emphasized the importance of new technology and said SCE is investing $12 million in downtown Santa Barbara in 2015 and 2016 to increase the reliability of its power lines. Pizarro said SCE is implementing two solar panel programs in 2016, one to help individual customers cover the cost of installing solar panels and another to provide solar panels to communities for people who cannot afford them.
Responding to a question on increasing energy efficiency at universities, Pizarro said universities can continue their “world class” research on new energy programs.
“I think the California universities are such a preferable resource and I think about the diversity and strength of our academic system — it’s incredible,” Pizarro said.
Lab Assistant III, SciTrek Program Coordinator and staff member in the chemistry and material science department Paige Roberts said she enjoyed Pizarro’s discussion of the intricacies of reducing carbon emissions.
“I think [Pizarro] did a really good job at portraying the complexity of the transition that we are trying to take on within the energy system and the energy industry,” Roberts said.
Roberts said she appreciates working at a university with the resources to host lectures such as Pizarro’s.
“To be able to work at the university and have exposure to these kinds of opportunities for lectures and hearing the conversation at the higher level is really beneficial,” Roberts said.
Member of the Ventura County Climate Hub Ron Whitehurst said the talk was a “public relations puff piece.”
“[Pizarro] went into a little bit of depth about some of the renewables planning and how the grid is structured and so on, but there were very few questions and they were extremely soft-balled, so they didn’t get into any significant issues,” Whitehurst said.
Chair of the Santa Barbara Sierra Club Katie Davis said although she is glad SCE is addressing the need for a low-carbon future, she was disappointed with the lack of questions addressing SCE’s recently implemented solar energy fees.
“Two days ago, Southern California Edison sent announcements about new fees on solar roofs,” Davis said. “There is a new minimum fee that actually quadrupled my energy bill and they are pushing the Public Utilities Commission for additional fees that would really discourage solar roofs.”
Executive Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB David Auston said he was pleased with the large number of students at the lecture.
“What’s happening now will affect future generations to an enormous degree,” Auston said. “This is something that matters a great deal to students, and I’m thrilled with the support and enthusiasm and dedication that our students at UCSB have for this issue.”