California has taken steps on the path to clean energy lately. Last week, the state Assembly passed legislation that would set a target to eliminate carbon emissions from California’s energy generation profile.
If signed into law by Governor Brown, the bill, S.B. 100, creates a clean energy goal, mandating that 100% of retail energy sales be derived from carbon-free sources by 2045. The bill would increase the state’s current 50% renewable portfolio standard to 60% by 2030 and would mandate that the state’s actions do not “contribute to greenhouse gas emissions increases elsewhere in the western grid.”
With the bill’s approval, California would become the second state to implement a goal of 100% renewable energy. Hawaii passed legislation in 2015 mandating 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. And other states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington DC are considering similar policies.
“I hope California will once again rise to the occasion and put the Golden State on a path to 100% clean energy by the middle of the century,” Former Vice President Al Gore wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “This action will be seen around the world as a major step forward on our path toward a sustainable future.”
But the bill has also sparked conversation about state-set portfolio standards. Opponents argue that the mandate is untimely, excessively optimistic, and an example of legislative overreach. Investor-owned utilities explain that it unfairly targets only one cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Others cite challenges in proving that clean energy goals are actually achieved.
“California embraces renewable energy for economic and job creation reasons as much as for environmental reasons,” Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association, told the New York Times. However, the bill would also likely mean the decommissioning of many of the gas-fired plants that currently produce more than half of California’s energy generation.
What are your thoughts? Is your state’s generation profile important to you? Do you believe that the sources should be legislated?