California leads the way with goal of 50% renewables by 2030

In his historic fourth Inaugural Address yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown proposed the ambitious goal of procuring 50% of the state's electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030. This cements the Governor's leadership on clean energy and will help fuel California's transition to a low carbon economy.

We are nearly midway in a fundamental transformation of the electricity grid. Fifteen years ago, California's grid was dominated by a portfolio of large fossil-fuel power plants. In fifteen years the grid will instead be dominated by a diverse array of renewables and legacy large hydroelectric plants, a vibrant storage sector, and price-responsive uses of electricity, which are able to adjust their consumption of electricity to periods when it is abundant and inexpensive, including a rapidly growing fleet of electric vehicles.

The Governor clearly recognizes the magnitude of this task. In order to be successful he says that we will need "great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution, ... enormous innovation, research and investment," and "active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels."

We agree. We look forward to working with the legislature, state agencies, the renewables industry, and other stakeholders to bring the Governor's goal to fruition. Fortunately, this effort is established on a strong foundation, including successful implementation to date of the 33% renewable portfolio standard, and a world-class clean energy research, development and demonstration program.

The Governor identified "a wide range of initiatives" that will be deployed to meet the renewables goal and to transform the electricity grid, including "more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electricand low-carbon vehicles."

This impressive agenda builds on California's strengths of technology and innovation. More generally it provides a road map to a growth-oriented economic policy by providing a path for California companies to invest in new products in a growing market that leads the world.

Governor Jerry Brown made history today by being inaugurated as California's elected leader for the fourth time. And his foresight and unwavering confidence will help light the way to a better future for ourselves and our children. We applaud his leadership.

About the Authors

Peter Miller

Senior Scientist, Energy & Transportation program

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