Update: SB 100 Held in Committee

Update: Although the Assembly floor session continued until midnight on September 15, SB 100 never made it out of Chris Holden’s Utilities and Energy Committee. On its way to the floor, SB 100 acquired a couple of nasty companions in the form of SB 726 and SB 813, which were hastily created to address some of the concerns of the utility companies.  Although these bills were withdrawn, SB 100 suffered its own volleys of opposition from utility company interests.

The amendment of September 11, when the bill acquired a new co-author (Todd Gloria from San Diego) resulted in the bill making another trip to the committee on Utilities and Energy.  One of the bright spots of this legislative session, SB 100 easily passed the Senate in May, but obviously had a tumultuous last few days in the Assembly.  A hugely popular bill among environmental and climate voters, it is hoped that the bill returns next session. Here’s the wrap-up from the Sacramento Bee.

SB 100 updates the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that all electricity sold in California come from renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2045. RPS-specified renewable energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, digester gas, municipal solid waste conversion, landfill gas, small hydropower (generation capacity < 30 megawatts), ocean wave or tidal, and fuel cells using renewable fuels).

At the eleventh hour, flyers purporting to be from the unions of utility employees and electrical workers created clouds of doubt around the revised targets for renewable electricity, saying “What’s the Rush?” and raising the specter of higher utility rates.

What’s the rush? There are obvious reasons for accelerating the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy (Wildfires! Floods! Climate chaos!), but achieving 100 per cent by 2045 is an attainable goal.  On one sunny day earlier this year, California generated 67% of its energy from renewable sources.

The targets in the RPS are being met: with advances in renewable technology and the accelerating adoption of solar and wind power, California is ahead of the game.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Laura Wisland said in a recent article “Getting to 60% renewables by 2030 is certainly achievable. Many of the major electricity providers in the state are already on track to meet or exceed the 50% RPS; raising it to 60% by 2030 will help take advantage of the renewable energy federal tax credits that are set to expire or significantly step down between 2019 and 2022. SB 100 would also establish a path to decarbonize the remaining electricity used in California (aka the 40% not subject to the RPS).  It does this by directing the state’s energy agencies to study and plan for an electricity grid that utilizes 100% “zero-carbon” resources by 2045.”  For more information, download the UCS factsheet on SB 100.

Can we do it? Yes, we can! Taking all zero-carbon energy sources into account, 50% of California electricity is already carbon free.

Thank you to the thousands of people who contacted their Assembly members in support of SB 100—and 100% Clean Electricity for California.