by Julia Pyper
September 28, 2018

In this episode of Political Climate, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker discusses wildfire maps, decarbonizing transportation, distributed energy, a regional Western grid, the evolving utility business model and more

Julia Pyper: It's the Woodstock of global warming. The world's fair of decarbonization. It's the Global Climate Action Summit hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown, and we are here to talk to a man at the center of the action. Hello and welcome to Political Climate, a bipartisan podcast on energy and environmental politics in America.

I'm Julia Pyper, senior editor at Greentech Media, and I'm joined by Shane Skelton, our Republican, partner at S2C Pacific and a former energy advisor to House Speaker Paul Ryan. And we have Brandon Hurlbut, our Democrat, partner at Boundary Stone Partners and a former chief of staff at the Department of Energy. This week the LA-based team journeyed up the coast this week to join thousands of scientists, business leaders, activists and politicians from more than 100 countries at the three-day Global Climate Action Summit.

Combating climate change is a global issue, but the spotlight is really on California this week where Governor Jerry Brown just signed a historic bill into law that requires the state to power its electric grid with 60 percent renewables by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free resources by 2045. But that's not all. Governor Brown kicked off this week of climate action with a bang by also signing an executive order that commits California to complete carbon neutrality by 2045. That means tackling emissions from transportation, industry, heating and various other energy services that rely on fossil fuels. The executive order came as a surprise to many, transitioning the world's fifth largest economy to 100 percent clean electricity will be difficult; transitioning that economy to zero net carbon, that's kind of hard to imagine.

So we are going to speak to someone who can help us figure out the how to piece the more pragmatic aspects of making these aspirational policies a reality. Michael Picker is President of the California Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for regulating the state's electricity sector. It will also be responsible for overseeing the implementation of SB 100, California's 100 percent clean electricity bill. It will also oversee many parts of the state's broader decarbonization efforts — and we're going to get into all of that. Commissioner Picker, thank you so much for coming on Political Climate.