100 Percent Clean Electricity for California

Legislation to require all California electricity providers to supply power generated 100 percent from renewable resources like wind and solar by 2045 has been introduced by Senate President Kevin de Leon. Senate Bill 584 (SB 584) would accelerate the transition to a clean energy future .

Currently, electricity providers are required to achieve a 33 percent renewable standard―generating one-third of their electricity from renewable sources―by 2020 and a 50 percent standard by 2030. California’s three large private utilities are ahead of schedule in meeting that mandate, achieving 27.6 percent renewables in 2015. SB 584 would advance the 50 percent mandate by five years to 2025 and require the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2045.

Getting to 100 percent renewables is facilitated by dramatic reductions over the past decade in the cost of wind and solar, which are now the lowest-cost options for new electricity supply in California. Taking into account the value of greenhouse gas emission benefits, there’s no doubt anymore that a clean energy future is also the least cost energy future.

Going forward, the most critical step to achieving this target is a fully integrated western grid, the path to which begins with a straightforward legislative authorization for the existing CAISO (California Independent System Operator) board to oversee a transition to an independent board with diverse expertise to oversee a grid that includes states beyond California and that can access pollution-free electricity in other states and sell California’s excess clean energy to our neighbors rather than throw it away.

The CAISO currently manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage, long-distance power lines that make up 80 percent of California’s and a small part of Nevada’s grid. An integrated western grid will facilitate the efficient use of transmission infrastructure and minimize the cost of meeting this mandate to California consumers, while helping to make available low-cost clean electricity to consumers in other western states.

The 100 percent renewables mandate is a no-brainer from a jobs perspective as well. Clean energy is among the fastest growing sources of new jobs in California and across the country.  In 2016, California added nearly 25,000 new jobs in solar energy alone, while nationwide one out of every fifty new jobs was in the solar industry.

Among the states, only Hawaii currently has a 100 percent mandate on the books, although at least 22 cities have already committed to 100 percent renewable electricity including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Palo Alto, and San Diego. A number of companies have also committed to achieving this ambitious goal including Google, Apple, Salesforce, and many others.

We look forward to working with Senator de Leon on this farsighted legislation and to bringing this ambitious goal into reality.

About the Authors

Peter Miller

Western Energy Project Director, Energy & Transportation program

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