Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Sacramento, CA, United States (4E) – California has become the first state in the union to totally do away with fossil fuels to generate its electricity.
Senate Bill 100 recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown mandates that California obtain 100 percent of its electricity from clean sources such as solar, wind and hydropower by 2045. The new law modifies the existing California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program.
It will increase the amount of renewable energy supplied to California’s electricity grid. The law requires that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030 compared to the current level of 32 percent.
The law also orders that retail sellers and local publicly owned electric utilities buy a minimum quantity of electricity from eligible renewable energy resources so the total kilowatt hours of electricity sold to retail end-use customers accounts for 44% of retail sales by December 31, 2024; 52% by December 31, 2027, and 60% by December 31, 2030.
The new law keeps California as the champion in the fight against climate change. It gives California the most far-reaching clean energy goals of any U.S. state.
“It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done,” said Brown during the signing ceremony.
Environmentalists cheered the news, and said the new law will reduce smog and set a benchmark other states and countries are expected to copy.
“A child born this week in California can count on reaching adulthood in a state free of smokestacks to create electricity,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.
“I feel so proud to be a Californian right now. And I feel so proud of people all over America who have kept fighting to clean up climate pollution, despite the federal government’s abandonment. This win, this bill, is for them, too.”
Supporters of the law included most of the state’s leading environmental groups and renewable energy trade associations. The law is also backed by the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the League of Women Voters and business groups, including the Silicon Valley Leadership Council, Adobe, Nike, Gap Inc., and Levi Strauss, among others.
Political pundits said the new law is also the most high-profile push back by California on environmental issues against Donald Trump, who denies the existence of climate science, and who has begun steps to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Trump is also expanding the use of coal, one of the most polluting fuels.
In the week of the final vote, former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a letter of support.
“California must take a stand and tell the world we are, as always, undeterred by those who wish to stop our progress and move backwards. We continue to move forward, and passing SB 100 is one of the boldest moves we can make to help save our climate and way of life.”
Californians support the law. A poll in July showed that 67 percent of likely voters favored the 100 percent clean energy measure while 21 percent opposed it.
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