California considers 100% RPS under new energy bill

23 February 2017, Week 07, Issue 546

Californian lawmakers have introduced bill in the state legislature which would see the state use 100% renewable energy by 2045. 


Democratic State Senator Kevin de León, California’s Senate leader, has introduced legislation that would require all of the state’s electricity be comprised of clean non-nuclear energy sources by 2045. 

The bill would require California to reach 50% renewables by 2025, five years sooner than under its current mandate, and to phase out fossil fuels and nuclear entirely by 2045. The state’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is 50% by 2030, an aggressive target that was adopted only 18 months ago.

To become law, the new RPS bill would have to be passed by a simple majority of both houses of the legislature, and then signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill has a chance of passage but has been filed only in draft form; the details would need to be fleshed out later.

The state, for decades, has been on the cutting edge of renewable energy and environmental policy in the United States. Hawaii is the only state so far with a 100% renewable RPS, but its population is small and the high cost of imported fuel makes new renewables generation a very persuasive case.

By contrast, with more than 39 million residents, California is the US’ most populous state. In 2015, its GDP was US$2.4 trillion, moving its economy slightly ahead of that of France and Brazil.

Large-Scale Solar Association president and First Solar executive Jim Woodruff welcomed the bill: “Whether it’s a direct response to what’s happening in Washington, I don't know, but it's certainly an indication that California will continue to lead in this area,” he told the Desert Sun.

California is already on course for a collision with the policies of President Donald Trump. Critics fear that his administration will scale back the pro-renewables Clean Power Plan proposed by the Obama administration. Governor Brown has even said that the Golden State will send its own satellite into space if it has to, to collect climate data, and will fight to continue to combat climate change. 

Trump is a climate change denier and has famously claimed that the phenomenon is a Chinese “hoax” to bolster the Asian country’s economy at the expense of America’s. He has also questioned renewable energy’s value and promised to revive fossil fuel industries.

The latest bill is ambitious, but given Governor Brown’s previous support for clean energy, the state’s sun-soaked climate and general support from its wealthy inhabitants, it is not an impossible task.

Edited by

Andrew Dykes


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