California can prove a clean energy economy is a strong economy with SB 100

The California State Assembly faces an enormous opportunity when they come back from summer recess today: to drive the state towards 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

It comes in the form of SB 100, a bill that would accelerate the state’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement from 50 percent to 60 percent by 2030 and set a statewide policy to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2045. In the wake of recent legislation to extend a cap and trade system for greenhouse gases, this effort will help us to reduce climate and air pollution from the electricity sector.

California is already ahead of schedule in reaching its goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030. In fact, according to the California Public Utilities Commission, utilities are already on contract for an average of 43 percent renewable energy by 2020 – a huge accomplishment worthy of applause.

The difficulty is that once these targets are met, we anticipate clean energy development and installation will slow, meaning fewer clean energy jobs and less investment in California. We need SB 100’s ambitious goal of 100 percent renewables to keep up economic growth.

Clean energy’s economic benefits

Right now, the RPS is responsible for the following economic benefits:

  • Jobs: Solar employs over 100,000 people in the state and wind directly employs up to 4,000 people from development and installation. Solar alone added almost 25,000 jobs in California in 2016.
  • More jobs: Once you include direct, indirect, and induced jobs, solar employs nearly 250,000 Californians. These jobs paid more than $16 billion in salaries, wages, and benefits and produced $47.9 billion in total economic activity for California in 2016.
  • Investment: California is home to 12 wind manufacturing facilities with $12.5 billion in total capital investment.
  • Local benefits: The RPS has created 29,000 direct jobs and $12 billion total economic activity in the Inland Empire and 31,000 direct jobs and $11.6 billion in total economic activity in the San Joaquin Valley.

It’s clear the RPS supports clean energy businesses, jobs, and investment in California. We don’t want this development to slow down, especially when clean energy technologies are already cost competitive with their fossil fuel counterparts and wind and solar costs are dropping dramatically, seemingly every day. What’s more, Californian’s bills are actually lower than those in most other states – meaning, although the price per unit of electricity may be higher, we pay less for electricity overall per month.

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Using all our clean energy tools

At the same time, we need to think about how a variety of clean technologies will work together, especially at higher levels of renewables on the grid. This is why SB 100 includes two critical components:

  1. It broadens the technologies that qualify as “renewables” to include “zero-carbon” resources – a larger array that includes more options like existing large hydropower.
  2. It requires the state agencies in charge of implementation to report back to the legislature every two years on progress and potential issues.

In addition to these steps, it is important that the agencies and the legislature take into account other tools that complement renewables on the grid, while creating jobs and new business opportunities. For example, we should continue to promote demand response, large and small scale energy storage, and smart electric vehicle charging. The California Public Utilities Commission should ensure the utilities develop balanced portfolios of diverse clean technologies like these during their planning and resource procurement processes.

Aiming for 100 percent renewables will continue to show the nation and the world what a strong, clean economy looks like.

Finally, our electric grid operator needs to be able to more easily trade clean energy resources across the Western U.S. when we produce more power than we need. Creating a larger market will help ensure the extra electricity doesn’t go to waste and California benefits from it economically, while helping other states run on more renewable electricity.

As California’s Assembly members return to Sacramento this week and start the hard work of finishing out this legislative session, we urge them to take action on SB 100 to continue the state’s clean energy leadership. Aiming for 100 percent renewables will continue to show the nation and the world what a strong, clean economy looks like.

Want to add your voice in support of California’s 100% renewable energy future? Click here to urge the California State Legislature to take action to make SB 100 law.

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  1. Bob Meinetz
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Lauren, pro-fossil fuel interests have carefully and cynically crafted the language of SB 100 to benefit themselves and solar and wind developers financially at the expense of the environment.

    In Section I, the bill mandates state agencies “should plan for 100 percent of total retail sales of electricity in California to come from eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources by December 31, 2045.”

    But soon thereafter, the bill changes course to exclude both nuclear and large hydroelectric generation, permitting only “eligible renewable energy resources” to qualify (large hydro doesn’t), and deleting a previous mandate to “transition from fossil fuel generation”.

    All nuclear and large hydroelectric – including the potential of advanced technologies which haven’t been invented yet – will be banned from participating in CA electricity markets for the next 28 years. That’s criminal – as is EDF’s continued, disgusting sellout of the environment on behalf of fossil fuel interests and its antinuclear base.

  2. Dave Koehler
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Bob,

    I have a hypothetical question for you. If God permitting some person on this planet invented a completely green free-energy device that powered the world and reversed global warming, what would happen to the global economy and Big Energy including OPEC? It seems this question is impossible to answer. What about the inventor?


  3. Bob Meinetz
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Dave, it isn’t impossible to answer hypotheticals like “If you had a time machine…”, “If pigs could fly…” or yours. I don’t bother, because it would be almost as pointless as asking them.