Is California's Carbon-Free Energy Plan Aggressive Enough?
Speaker 1: 00:00 Touring sites of California's latest hell storms on September 11th. Governor Gavin Newsome declared quote, this is a climate damn emergency. Now environmental groups are calling the state's mandate to be carbon free by 2045 woefully inadequate they're beseeching Newsome to greatly accelerate our transition from fossil fuels. Rob Nicole esky energy reporter for the San Diego union Tribune to explain the details in a story today, and he joins me now, Rob, welcome back to midday edition. Always good to talk to you, Mark. We'll start by describing California's current energy goals that are laid out in 2018 Senate bill 100. When does the state supposed to be using energy? That's 100% carbon free. And how are we going to get that done? Speaker 2: 00:43 Yeah, well, the, the current mandate is that, uh, we'll get by, uh, in the next 10 years, SB 100 mandates at 60% of the state's power will come from renewable sources now that by 2045 bumps up to 100%, but it's 100% carbon free. And that's an interesting and important distinction cause renewables like solar and wind, uh, there are renewable forces, but they're also intermittent and that's been one of their issues is because when the wind doesn't blow, we don't get much wind production. And, uh, solar production is terrific during the day, but you don't get any solar production at night. So how do you get to 100% by 2045? Is there some wiggle room there in the, um, in the mandate for SB 100 in which you can also count carbon free sources to get to that 100% goal. Now carbon free sources can be renewables as we mentioned, but also can be large hydro projects, Speaker 1: 01:48 Environment, California and other environmental groups thinks this isn't good enough. What do they recommend? Speaker 2: 01:54 Well, they want to see the, uh, the 2045 deadline, so to speak moved up by 15 years up to 2030, because they say, when you look at what happened with the hell storms, as you mentioned that your intro about, uh, all the wildfires have been going on in California and also throughout the West that they say, this is impetus to move forward and to get on to 100% carbon free sources by 20, 30, 15 years ahead of time. So that's what, that's what they're pushing. Speaker 1: 02:29 And less than 10 years from now in this plan, isn't going over very well with some legislators, including Democrats. What are their arguments? Speaker 2: 02:36 Well, I talked to assembly member, Jim Cooper, who's from the Sacramento South suburb of elk Grove. And I talked to him because when the state had the rolling blackouts, uh, last month it was brief rolling blackouts. He went to Twitter and was pretty active on, on what he saw were some of the issues. He was a Democrat. Um, but he's skeptical about whether or not we can get to 100% renewables by 2030. He's not an energy expert, admittedly, he says, but he says that, um, he doesn't think that we can get to, uh, all renewable sources right now. And he thinks that 2030 might be pushing it. Speaker 1: 03:18 And governor Newsome seems to side with the environmentalist. He respectfully clashed with president Trump during a meeting in the Bay area this week, the governor declared he has no patience now for climate change deniers like Trump is Newsome ready to campaign to accelerate California's energy transition. Speaker 2: 03:35 That's a big question. I mean, but the indications are that he might, because at that same time where you said, this is a damn climate emergency, he also said, uh, across the entire spectrum, our state goals are inadequate to the reality we are experiencing. So that seems to indicate that he wants to move or accelerate the state goals. But didn't say that explicitly. And that's what environment California really hung their hat on was they said, look, we saw an opening here with the governor saying that we need to accelerate our goals. And what they're suggesting is to move this up 15 years instead of 2045 to 2030, the big question is going to be a, can we do that from an engineering standpoint and B if even if it can be done, can it be done affordably? Speaker 1: 04:23 And there are daunting challenges, obviously with all this start with energy storage, that means batteries, but it also means creative solutions like hydroprojects using pumping stations, presumably fueled by green energy. How does that work? Speaker 2: 04:36 Well, that's one of the, um, if you're going to try to get to 100% carbon free sources and which basically means you're going to be trying to make up for, or eliminate natural gas production, natural gas is the largest single source of electricity production in California. It's more than 30% what we should, what we can do to make up for that loss of natural gas. They start looking at things like battery storage. So to directly to your point, pumped hydro is a possibility that you were derive a lot of what Tricity from what you get with pump hydro is you have hydroelectric facilities and they pump water from row one reservoir up to another reservoir. And then they release the water and they turn generators. And that produces electricity. The other big area that, uh, that, that people see as a possible replacement for fossil fuel energy would be battery storage. And that would be lithium ion batteries. But if you could soar that store, that energy up with batteries, then at nighttime, when we're not producing solar, you can release that energy from batteries. Speaker 1: 05:50 Well, we're out of time, but there's a lot more moving parts to all this transmission lines are another issue and how we're going to pay for all this, the cost of it. And you get at that in your story. I'd recommend folks go to the union Tribune website or kpbs.org and take a look at that today. And, and there'll be an update on this. Uh, you say, uh, the first of next year on SB 100 and what our timetable is to transition away from fossil fuels. I've been speaking with Rob Nikolsky energy reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks Rob. Speaker 3: 06:20 Thanks Mark. [inaudible].