Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the 2007 Green California Schools Summit. As a Commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission, I am honored to serve under the leadership of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Climate change and the new energy economy would not be at the forefront of this nation state’s agenda without the vision and hard work of our governor. I am also very pleased to participate in this summit with Secretary Rosario Marin, a wonderful woman and leader. Rosario Marin has an incredible passion to improve our green infrastructure and it is no surprise to me to hear about Rosario’s green building initiative. As the former United States Treasurer, it is history to be in her presence.
I am thrilled to be here in the Los Angeles region, a most appropriate location for this summit. The Los Angeles region has displayed through its various green initiatives. I would like to commend the region for its commitment to a clean future through its green building initiative, the LA Community College District’s and my dear friend Mark Drummond’s efforts to deploy renewable energy and take all nine of its campuses off the grid, and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s pledge to build high-performance green schools. When I look out into the audience I see a tremendous opportunity for all members of the education community to further the accomplishments of Los Angeles and the state in curbing global warming and achieving a bright, healthy, clean, and prosperous future for all of California’s students.
The Governor’s vision is a new “Gold Rush” for the state—an unprecedented opportunity to build a new economy based on products and services that can meet the needs of society without endangering its future. Our investment community agrees. With over $1 billion in investments in California, its visionaries have declared that “green technology”—from clean, renewable energy, to green buildings—will power the 21st century economy.
This vision will not become a reality without your efforts to unleash the creative and positive energy of California’s students. The range of needs is great, and it is important that the diversity of opportunity is shared among California’s diverse community of students. Social equity is one of the cornerstones of sustainability. Lifting up larger and larger numbers of students who are currently at risk, and preparing them for careers that allow them to greatly improve their own quality of life—while improving conditions for society at large—is profoundly sustainable.
For these reasons, I am spearheading a summit in conjunction with the Willie Brown Institute on Politics and Public Service on January 14th titled “Advancing the New Energy Economy in California: A Summit on, long-term investment, green jobs and financial growth.” I hope you all can attend. The education community is the critical link to ensure that the private sector’s workforce and labor needs will be met through the next generation of students. With over 50% of utility employees at most utilities nationwide becoming eligible to retire in the next 5 years, and 40% of California utility employees currently retirement ready, you are the vehicle to ensure that our students are equipped with the skills to thrive in this new energy economy and meet the workforce demands. You have the opportunity to ensure a smooth transition to a clean, renewable, and energy efficient future.
This summit will not be a one day event, but will create tangible outcomes such as workforce training curriculum, student scholarships, and outreach programs to educate students on this attractive career path, with or without a college degree.
In closing, the topics that we are covering today at this Green California Schools Summit are not unique to California. You all have an opportunity to lead the nation on your innovative green initiatives and curricula. The United States Congress is very close to voting on a national energy bill that would further the goals we will be discussing over the next two days, including green jobs and green buildings. I commend all of you for your leadership thus far and for your dedication to making a green future a reality.