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50% Renewable Electricity Passed By California Senate

The California Senate recently passed SB 350, legislation that sets a goal of 50% electricity from renewables in the Golden State by 2030. The bill doesn’t stop there, though — it also calls for doubling the energy efficiency of buildings in the next 15 years, and cutting petroleum use in transportation by half. (A version of SB 350 is now being considered in the state Assembly.) This bill tracker says it was read for the first time.


Here is the text of the bill about the 50% goal: “This bill would additionally express the intent of the Legislature for the purposes of the RPS program that the amount of electricity generated per year from eligible renewable energy resources be increased to an amount equal to at least 50% by December 31, 2030, and would require the PUC, by January 1, 2017, to establish the quantity of electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources be procured by each retail seller for specified compliance periods sufficient to ensure that the procurement of electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources achieves 50% of retail sales by December 31, 2030.”

These are huge goals, but they may be necessary to get attention and create focal points for the most populous state in the America. With close to 39 million residents, one might think that it would be very difficult for such changes to happen, but California is known for being a leader in new technologies. It is already a solar power leader.

Policies related to energy efficiency and renewables are not only about the environment; they also can create jobs. “California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007, while eliminating fewer than 25,000, according to a study to be released Monday,” a recent article in the New York Times states.

In 2011, Governor Brown signed a bill that set a goal of having utilities generate 33% of their electricity from renewable sources. In January of 2015, he mentioned that the new RPS could be 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030. He also noted that California was on track to hit 33% by 2020.

A separate Senate bill that was passed set more aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “The issue going forward will be we’re looking for optionality. At some point costs get very high and so we’re looking to create an environment where for renewables, energy efficiency and electric vehicles use all of those tools to try to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Anthony Earley, president and CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric. Of course, using renewable electricity makes much more sense than using non-renewable forms, but fossil fuels have been abundant enough and cheap (if you don’t count societal health, environmental, and climate costs), so they became ubiquitous.

One thing that might have been overlooked by the legislation is energy storage. California has been investing in this new technology, which is obviously very complementary to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. It might be useful to set some goals at the policy level to encourage more energy storage as well. Another area for consideration would be increasing the targeted number of electric vehicles in the state.

How long do you think it will take for California to get to 100% renewable electricity?

Image Credit: Calilover, Wiki Commons

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