Historic California Climate Protection Bill Advances

Guest Blog by Emma Rapperport

David Yeshiwas, Intern, Environment California / Environment California Research & Policy Center

California’s legislature is moving yet again to create an historic clean energy precedent for its residents and the world. The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities voted on July 3 to approve a bill that will set the state on track toward 100 percent zero-carbon electricity. The aptly numbered California Senate Bill 100 (SB 100), sponsored by Senator Kevin de León, sets a goal of supplying all of California’s electricity  through renewable and zero-carbon sources by 2045, establishing a path to full decarbonization of the electricity sector. Now that it has moved out of committee, the bill will be scheduled for floor votes in both houses of the legislature, likely in August.

California is already committed to a goal of 50 percent renewable power by 2030 (established by SB 350), with 33 percent by 2020, and is well on the way to meeting these targets ahead of schedule. SB 100 would accelerate this progress to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. These targets clearly are within reach. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) estimates that the state’s electricity mix was already  30 percent renewable in 2017, and investor-owned utilities, which have accounted historically for about three-fourths of California’s retail electricity sales, report that they will reach the 50 percent goal by 2020, a full decade ahead of schedule.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), first established in 2002, requires that the state’s retail electricity sellers procure a set percentage of their power from a portfolio of renewable sources, which include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and small hydropower plants. (The first RPS established a 20 percent goal, and the legislature has raised the percentage steadily over time.) To aid in moving to 100 percent zero-carbon energy by 2045, SB 100 allows for flexibility by requiring zero-carbon technologies (methods of generating electricity that do not generate greenhouse gases), but not limiting eligibility to the RPS technologies. This language opens the way to technologies that have not yet been developed, and provides for continuing contributions by large-scale hydropower from existing facilities.

California is the national leader in clean energy development, and SB 100 sends a clear signal that we remain committed to acting with the urgency and speed required to address climate change and decarbonize the economy. Progress has exceeded expectations and driven significant employment growth, while leaving California’s electricity bills well below the national average. SB 100 will deliver more of what clearly has been a very good thing, at a critical time.  

About the Authors

Ralph Cavanagh

Energy Co-Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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