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California Aims To Get All Electricity From Clean Sources By 2045

A solar energy panel is carried to be placed in a solar energy field at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli AP
A solar energy panel is carried to be placed in a solar energy field at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
California Aims To Get All Electricity From Clean Sources By 2045
California Aims To Get All Electricity From Clean Sources By 2045 GUEST: Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego

This week California took a momentous step toward ratcheting up its goals for how to limit carbon emissions to slow climate change. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Monday to have 100 percent of its energy come from clean sustainable energy sources by the year 2045. SB 100 is sending a message to California and to the world that we're going to meet the Paris agreement and we'll continue down that path to transition our economy to zero emission zero carbon emission. California is the second state in the country to adopt a goal like this. Hawaii was the first. The bill signing comes ahead of this week's Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. And here to talk to us more about it is our very own assembly member Todd Gloria who is the co author of SB 100 and the author of the city of San Diego's climate action plan. Thanks so much for being here. Thank you for having me Alisyn. So how significant is this new clean energy goal for California and how difficult was it to get it passed. It's hard to understate how significant this is and it was a bit difficult to get it passed as a two year bill. For your listeners don't know that you believe these things can be handled in one session it took two and it was a close vote in the end but ultimately it is now law in California and it sends an extraordinary signal as the governor says not just to Californians who I think believe and understand that climate change is real. We see it all around us. But to the whole world we are the fifth largest economy in the world and we are saying that we are setting ourselves up for a clean energy future. And we mentioned you know 100 percent renewable by 2045 give us a few more of the details of this bill. So we are currently at a 50 percent standard a few years in the future. One 100 moves that marker closer here to where we are now. And that's important also because there are days of the year where we already do 50 percent clean energy in California. So the early phases of this won't be I think incredibly difficult to reach. Given that we can kind of do it today. It's really sunny days but going in the future steps up you know to the 100 percent threshold in 2045 and that will be difficult. There is no question about it. However Alisyn I think that we are already struggling with the difficulties of climate change and this is why I think we're able to build the consensus actually pass SB 100 knowing that a clean energy will help us to fight climate change. So yesterday San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulkner tweeted out. He said moving California to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 is the right move. Our economy our environment our economy and our state. Here in San Diego I set us on the path to 100 percent by 2035. Now you were a part of that. So give us a bit of a sense of what the roadmap is for San Diego and the state to get to these goals. Well S.P. 100 is an important step. I think the next step that your listeners need to watch for is whether or not the mayor calls upon the council to vote our community choice energy that is truly the vehicle that I see forgetting San Diego to 100 percent renewable energy as is required under the Climate Action Plan that we adopted. And that goal is 10 years sooner than the state. So I actually like this whole situation because this is one of those instances where San Diego was actually leading. I had a statewide advocate yesterday lean over to me at the press conference where we're standing above Governor Brown saying you know San Diego got here first and we did. And as a consequence the state followed our lead. And so they need if we can establish community choice energy here. That's a vote that I believe the council can take this year. And the mayor should call for that vote. We will continue to lead the state and we'll continue to show the path to the clean energy future that I think we want. I think that we that we need the big problem is of course if the sun ain't shining and the wind blowing we rely on natural gas to keep the lights on. And quite recently a natural gas provided about half the power in this state. So how do you see that transition away from natural gas. I was king I was mentioning the scientist or the technician in a laboratory somewhere. You know battery storage is a huge part of this. And I was talking with a solar provider over the weekend who indicated that they're not selling solar panels any longer without battery storage. That's just kind of how they do business now. And I think you're going to see much more of that and much in the same way you've seen the cost of solar panels come down as California has ramped up its commitment to renewable energy. I think by establishing this audacious goal that battery storage will become something that is like solar panels more accessible more widely distributed. And there's probably technologies we haven't even considered yet but is in the minds of someone somewhere that now knows that the fifth largest economy in the world is saying we're going to do this. I think importantly Alison we're not going to be the last. As you mentioned how Hawaii has already done it. California it's done it. And I'm a believer in California so goes the rest of nation and in this case I think the rest of the world. What about people who are concerned that their bills their power bills are going to go up under Community Choice Energy for example or community choice energy. You know we have examples where that actually is the opposite is true that the costs for consumers for rate payers have gone down. You know with regard to energy bills I mean they are already high. I mean this is part of why my constituents are adopting solar on their own. It just happens to be now that we are setting this goal that I think actually will help facilitate the well to possibile. But how do you enforce it. Will there be any kind of negative implications for somebody for the state if it doesn't reach those goals. Oh well besides the lack of more leadership I mean I really do think this is the challenge of our time and we have to get this right. You know there certainly would be repercussions not the least of which is the continued status quo of wildfires and other companies for example where the power companies you know there they will have to meet these these goals. Again I struggle with the answer to that simply because the power companies have been able to meet the existing standards that have been set. And again those were goals that people thought were wildly optimistic if not unattainable in every instance they'd been able to attain them. Quick question about nuclear a lot of scientists think that is essential for a clean energy future but California only has one left senator for his closed Diablo Canyon is due to close. Where does nuclear figure. There may be people who disagree with me but I don't know that that's a part of this future. I mean as we look in my own district try and discuss where do we put the spent fuel. And there's no good answer to that. In fact the answers that we were given are actually not great. You know I'm much more hopeful for distributed solar for wind for hydroelectric power and maybe for other things that haven't been discovered yet that we will. But you know nuclear is not is not without repercussions and we're having that conversation right now in North County SanDiego where we know that the reburying nuclear waste on our beach and that just that's not sustainable. And finally I just wanted to ask you the these goals might be easier to reach than California's goals to cut carbon emissions. Those goals which are linked obviously might be much harder to reach would you say. Yes I think that's fair. But it is hard to reach. Absent courage you know as governor Brown made a point yesterday and asked me 100 is just a piece of the overall puzzle that we're putting together for a strategy to address climate change. Here in California. So you are actually planning to be at this Climate Action Summit in San Francisco later this week. I am. I'm a part of the state's delegation to the summit. This is an effort to try and fill the void that has been left by Washington's withdraw from the Paris accord. And you know we're going to have leaders from all around the world in San Francisco discussing what we are respectively doing on climate. I'm going to tell the story of San Diego's climate action plan and what we have done as a city as a major American city as a major international city on climate. I think we have a great story to tell. I'm eager to share that with people from around the world and invite their assistance and support in helping us to actually implement this here. Well California Assemblyman Gloria thanks so much for your work on this issue. Thank you for having me.

California has set a goal of phasing out fossil fuels from the state's electricity sector by 2045 under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown, who has positioned California as a global leader in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, approved the measure as he prepares to host a summit in San Francisco of climate change leaders from around the world later this week.

The renewable energy measure would require California's utilities to generate 60 percent of their energy come from wind, solar and other specific renewable sources by 2030. That's 10 percent higher than the current mandate.


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The goal would then be to use only carbon-free sources to generate electricity by 2045. It's merely a goal, with no mandate or penalty for falling short.

"It's not going to be easy and will not be immediate, but it must be done," Brown said. "California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change."

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.

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Utilities are already dealing with an abundance of solar energy during peak times, which must be offloaded to other states when there's not enough demand locally for the power.

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 wide-scale deployment.

Brown has often faced criticism that he's too cozy with the oil industry, including from environmental groups that plan to protest at the San Francisco summit.

Critics say the renewable energy goal is not realistic and worry that individuals and businesses will face higher energy prices.

The measure was written by Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who is running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

California Aims To Get All Electricity From Clean Sources By 2045