California’s 100% renewable energy initiative gains steam

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A broad coalition has come together in support of SB 100 – a bill submitted by California state Senator Kevin de León in 2017. The bill was put on hold before it hit the Governor’s desk, but supporters are renewing their efforts.

The legislation calls for the state:

To achieve that 50% renewable resources target by December 31, 2026, and to achieve a 60% target by December 31, 2030…it is the policy of the state that eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources supply 100% of retail sales of electricity to serve California end-use customers and electricity procured to serve all state agencies no later than December 31, 2045.

Currently, California law mandates that utilities procure 33% of their electricity from renewables by the end of 2020, and 50% by the end of 2030. Projections suggest that electricity utilities will hit their 50% renewable goals by 2020 – a full decade early. PG&E hit its 33% goal in 2017 – well before the December 31, 2020 mandate.

In September of 2017, the electricity utilities and northern California electrical worker unions pushed back hard against the bill. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1245, said Kevin de León had gone back on a promise to include amendments to protect union jobs.

De León’s office denied he’d promised any bill amendments.

The list groups included in the coalition (above imagery) is long:

350 Bay Area, 350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley, 350 Silicon Valley, 350 South Bay Los Angeles, American Lung Association, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Better World Group, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Californians Against Waste, Californians For Effective, Equitable Carbon Pricing, CERES, Earthjustice, Ecovote, Environment California, Fossil Free CA, Greenlining Institute, Mothers Out Front South Bay, NRDC, Reform California – Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Sierra Club California, SoCal 350 Climate Action, The Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment, The Solutions Project, Union of Concerned Scientists and Vote Solar.

With California racing toward their 50% goal early, Hawaii suggesting they’ll reach 100% well before their 2045 goal, energy storage deploying all over California and transmission projects being canceled because of solar, the momentum for more ambitious renewable energy goals is growing.

However, while we did get record solar and renewable output this spring on the California power grid, we’ve also seen a slowdown in utilities procuring large-scale solar in California as they’ve already met their required targets. Renewable energy advocates say this indicates that new goals are necessary.