Senate Committee Advances Cortese Bill to Accelerate Economic Growth through Data Centers Expansion

SB 1298 approved by Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee

SACRAMENTO (April 16, 2024) – A bill by Senator Dave Cortese, which seeks to meet the rapid demand for data centers from individuals, organizations, and industries in California, cleared its first policy committee on Tuesday. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee today advanced SB 1298, which would streamline the approval process for data centers and maintain clear guidelines for development, all while upholding California’s robust environmental standards and creating thousands of new construction jobs across the state. 

The bill seeks to meet the rapid demand for data centers from individuals, organizations, and industries in California by raising the threshold for data center eligibility under the Small Power Plant Exemption process from 100 megawatts to 150 megawatts, in adherence to California’s rigorous clean air and clean energy standards. The bill is sponsored by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the leading business association representing Silicon Valley’s innovation economy and ecosystem.

“SB 1298 represents a balanced approach, boosting our technological capabilities to support the emerging digital economy while upholding the essential environmental standards that define our state,” said Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). “This bill keeps California at the cutting edge, facilitating growth while maintaining our commitment to environmental stewardship. 

“Data Centers underpin California’s innovation ecosystem, enabling our competitive edge in pioneering new and emerging digital services, as well as sustaining the State’s critical infrastructure,” said SVLG CEO Ahmad Thomas. “We applaud the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee for advancing SB 1298, which will unleash a new era of Silicon Valley innovation, create thousands of new jobs, support California’s ambitious electrification goals, and fuel economic growth to benefit all Californians.”

“As the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose experiences firsthand the important role data centers play in powering our economic engine,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said. “SB 1298 will help us open data centers at the pace our innovators demand and grow San Jose’s economy for the benefit of all,” said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan. 

“Santa Clara County is home to many of the world’s most innovative companies and we recognize that data centers represent a critical infrastructure necessity, not only for Silicon Valley businesses but also for the emergency services, hospital records, online banking, and many other cloud-based services that support the needs of our community. SB 1298 will enable California to continue meeting the ever-increasing demand for state-of-the-art data centers, while staying on course to meet our ambitious clean energy and clean air goals,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez (District 2). 

About the Silicon Valley Leadership Group:

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) is the leading business association representing the innovation economy and its ecosystem. Founded by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, SVLG has worked for 45 years to address issues that affect the region’s economic health and quality of life. Today, SVLG Is focused on accelerating the next era of Silicon Valley leadership, activated by our three new Centers of Expertise (COE). Innovation & Technology, Sustainable Growth, and Inclusion & Belonging. SVLG members collectively provide nearly one of every three private sector jobs in Silicon Valley and contribute more than $3 trillion to the worldwide economy. For more information, visit