Promising “painful” budget recommendations to come, California Gov. Jerry Brown reaffirmed his commitment to renewable energy and efficiency programs as part of a sobering inaugural speech following his swearing in Monday in Sacramento as the 39th governor of the state. Missing in his brief remarks was any mention of climate change, environmental issues or traditional fossil fuels.

Brown, assuming the state’s CEO role for the second time having served two terms (1975-1983) previously, said he has set a goal of having 20,000 MW of renewable-based power supplies in the state by 2020, even as he warned that the current “undertow” of a prolonged national recession calls for “assessing our financial condition honestly and making tough choices.”

The new governor said he intends to meet the renewable energy goal by “the [regulatory] appointments I make and the actions they take.” There are two positions on the California Public Utilities Commission and one on the California Energy Commission that Brown has to fill immediately. He could also change the head regulator at each agency.

“There are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to be created if California regulatory authorities [in energy and other sectors] make sensible and bold decisions,” Brown said. “It will also be necessary to make sure that our laws and rules focus on our most important objectives, minimizing delays and unnecessary costs.”

In regard to the latter, Brown appeared to plan to continue the push of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has fashioned some fast-track permitting for renewable and major electric transmission line projects involving both state and federal authorities.

California’s new governor said he intends to meet with not only energy company leaders, but also “executives from a broad range of California business and industry” to work on common problems and lower barriers that hold back progress in the private sector. Brown noted that California still ranks as the eighth largest economy in the world.

“Over the last decade, California has outpaced the nation in the growth of our gross domestic product and in our productivity per capita,” Brown said. “Even in the midst of this recession, Californians this year will produce almost $2 trillion of new wealth as measured by our state’s domestic product.”

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