California Sets Goal Of 100 Percent Clean Energy By 2045
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Photo by Michael Schuerman
California would accelerate its efforts to generate most of the state's energy from carbon-free sources and set a goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely by 2045 under legislation approved Tuesday by the Assembly.
The bill would require California utilities to get half their energy from wind, solar and other specific renewable sources by 2026 — four years sooner than current law requires.
They would then have four more years to get 60 percent from renewables. The 2045 deadline of phasing out fossil fuels is a goal that does not include mandates or penalties.
The measure by Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon, who is running for U.S. Senate, got a last-minute celebrity endorsement when former Vice President Al Gore and actor and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote letters in support. Other actors, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, have tweeted their support.
It was one of more than 100 bills voted on Tuesday by the Senate and Assembly as lawmakers speed toward a Friday deadline to finish their business for the year.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than a dozen bills into law on Tuesday, including an overhaul of the state's pre-trial detention system and the creation of an office of election cybersecurity.
Most Democrats cheered the renewable energy bill as another way for California to show global leadership in addressing climate change by charting a path for other large economies to follow.
"We have to be a leader. We have to show what can be done," said Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat. "If we can get to 100 percent renewables, others will as well."
Quirk, a scientist who has worked on climate change research, said he wasn't sure if the new goals were feasible, but the state must try.
Republicans, joined by a handful of moderate Democrats, said the legislation would saddle families and businesses with higher energy bills.
"Why would this body double-down and further increase costs on struggling California families?" said Steven Choi, R-Irvine.
Phasing out fossil fuels would be a massive change in the energy grid. Utilities rely on natural gas plants to meet demand when renewables fall short, particularly in the early evening when the sun sets and people turn on their air conditioners as they get home from work.
Renewable energy experts have looked to batteries that can store solar energy generated in the afternoon as one possible solution, but the technology is not ready for widescale deployment.
The measure that passed by the Assembly returns to the Senate for consideration of changes.
Other action Tuesday included:
—Brown signed legislation creating an office of elections cybersecurity to combat cyber threats and false information online.
It will work with state, local and federal agencies to share information about cyber threats, develop emergency preparedness plans and recommend ways to protect election infrastructure.
The office would also be in charge of counteracting false information about the electoral process online, such as the date elections are being held or how to register to vote.
—The Assembly approved a bill limiting the state's felony murder rule that allows accomplices to face execution or life sentences even if they didn't personally kill someone.
It limits murder convictions to those who actually commit killings; those who "with the intent to kill" knowingly aid, solicit or assist the killer; and those who are major participants and act with reckless indifference to human life. It goes back to the Senate for a final vote.
—The Assembly voted to raise the age for purchasing long guns to 21. It now goes back to the Senate.
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