Tech Policy

California’s tech industry bets big on grid improvements, EV adoption

Silicon Valley industry leaders are hoping key initiatives make it on the 2024 ballot.
article cover

Gguy44/Getty Images

· 3 min read

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a business association whose member companies include Apple, Uber, Google, and Meta, is placing its bets on a handful of climate-related policy initiatives that California voters could see on the ballot in 2024.

Last Tuesday, SVLG, which was founded in 1977 by HP’s David Packard, announced the start of three new initiatives to create a more synchronous power grid, boost climate resiliency, and promote clean energy investments in the region.

One initiative, the Transmission + Interconnection Working Group, supports the creation of a coordinated power market in the West via a Western Regional Transmission Organization (WRTO).

Translation? Silicon Valley wants to integrate the management of California’s power grid with that of other Western states. Proponents of a proposal to do just that—which is making its way through the California legislature—claim Regional Transmission Organizations are the most efficient way to move toward 100% clean energy production.

In case this requires further clarification:

  • RTOs, which are nonprofit organizations regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, regulate large swaths of the grid on a state or regional basis. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages the flow of electricity across 15 US states and Manitoba, is one example.
  • Energy in the Western US is currently managed by about 40 independent authorities, each handling supply/demand and grid reliability within their own regions. A portion of the Western market is managed by an RTO called the California Independent System Operator.

Tim McRae, SVLG’s SVP of sustainable growth, pointed to the organization’s support of a WRTO campaign called Lights on California, and said its success would help provide Silicon Valley with a more reliable grid.

What do they want it for? “More electricity to power AI,” McRae told Tech Brew. “The general bottlenecks that we’re trying to solve are for things like Silicon Valley wanting to build more data centers, more fleets [of] zero-emission vehicles.”

The name’s Bond. Climate Bond: The second SVLG initiative, the Climate Bond Task Force, wants to put a statewide bond measure on the ballot “to promote Bay Area climate resilience and sustainability.”

The California Senate passed a $15.5+ billion bond measure earlier this summer, which would provide funds for things like extreme heat mitigation, wildfire and flood resilience, and climate smart agriculture. McRae expects to see the measure on statewide ballots in 2024.

SVLG’s third initiative, the Zero Emissions Vehicles Task Force, will advocate for policies “that speed the transition to an electrified transportation sector through the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles,” the group said.

“Silicon Valley companies and their innovative technologies will be crucial to address the climate crisis,” McRae concluded. “Our work is to get the policies right through these working groups, to help these companies stay economically competitive so their technologies can develop and scale.”

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.