California Commits to 100 % Carbon-Free Energy by 2045
California has recently taken a large step towards ending its dependence on fossil fuels and promoting the use of clean, renewable energy through the passage of Senate Bill 100 (SB 100). Following in the footsteps of Hawaii, where a similar bill was recently passed, Senate Bill 100 aims to transition California’s energy grid to being powered by 100 percent carbon-free energy by the year 2045. While the bill has yet to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown, environmental groups are optimistic about the bill’s future and expect Governor Brown to sign it before the state’s climate summit next month.
In addition to the state’s goal to supply the electric grid with 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045, the bill includes several other energy goals for the years preceding the 2045 deadline. Under Senate Bill 100, all retail sellers of electricity would be required to procure a minimum quantity of electricity products from renewable resources so that the total kilowatt-hours of those products sold to their retail end-use customers achieve 50% of retail sales by December 31, 2026 and 60% of retail sales by December 31, 2030. These goals update and increase the levels required by the existing law by as much as 10 percent in some cases, thereby hastening California’s transition to a carbon-free power grid.
While the bill has been debated extensively over the past two years due to cost and feasibility concerns, support from several high-profile state and national politicians has resulted in it passing the state assembly. Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Former Vice President Al Gore each sent letters to lawmakers backing the bill and praising California’s commitments to clean energy despite the federal government’s recent policies promoting the use of coal, oil, and natural gas.
The bill has also received enthusiastic support from citizens across the state. Environment California, an environmental advocacy group that led the coalition inside and outside the capitol to build support for the bill, reported that “more than 250 organizations in the environmental, public health, labor, environmental justice, faith, business and youth communities wrote letters in support of SB 100.” Likewise, the National Resources Defense Council released a statement praising the bill as a “major move toward curbing the threat of climate change to our health and our children’s future, especially in communities that are disproportionately bearing the heavy brunt of pollution.”
Although the bill has received much praise due to its ambitious aims, many members of the assembly cast doubts on the potential costs associated with the bill. Opposition came from both Republicans and Democrats who believed that the bill fails to consider the impacts of increased electrical bills on residents of low-income and rural communities. Furthermore, some opponents of the bill argued that many of California’s efforts to combat the effects of climate change, such SB 100, are primarily symbolic and will not make any substantial changes to the planet’s continued warming.
The California Environmental Lawyers at Bick Law LLP will continue to monitor the progression of pieces of environmental legislation such as Senate Bill 100 as well as their potential impacts on businesses across the state.