New California bill would accelerate the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity

A bill introduced by the leader of the California Senate would be one of the most aggressive clean energy bills in the country.

Installers from California Green Design put solar electrical panels on the roof of a home in Glendale, Calif. CREDIT: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Installers from California Green Design put solar electrical panels on the roof of a home in Glendale, Calif. CREDIT: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

California has already emerged as a climate leader in the age of President Trump, but that isn’t stopping state leaders from looking for ways to push its clean energy agenda even further. On Friday, California Senate leader Kevin de Léon (D) introduced a bill aimed at hastening the state’s transition to renewable energy — a bill that would create one of the most ambitious renewable energy mandates in the country.

The bill would require California to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. It would also require California to get half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025 — five years earlier than the current law mandates.

De Léon was the original sponsor of the state’s current renewable energy mandate, which requires utilities in the state to get half of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. But de Léon recently told the Los Angeles Times that the law simply does not go far enough — and indicated at the beginning of February that he was considering a bill aimed at getting the state to 100 percent renewable electricity in the near future.

That came to fruition on Friday, with the introduction of SB 584. According to the Desert Sun, Friday was the deadline for bill filing in the state of California, and the current bill could simply be a placeholder for a more detailed policy proposal later.

California is not alone in trying to take progressive action on climate in spite of the fossil fuel-friendly rhetoric of the Trump administration. Last week, the cities of Pueblo, Colorado, and Moab, Utah became the first cities to commit to going 100 percent renewable since Trump took office, bringing the total number of cities that have gone 100 percent renewable, or have pledged to go 100 percent renewable, to 23.

And while a handful of those cities are located in Democratic bastions like California — San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have all pledged to get 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources — others, like Georgetown, Texas, are located in traditionally conservative areas. In a press interview before Trump’s inauguration, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (D) described a wave of climate-friendly policies being enacted in cities around the country.

“It’s become normalized,” Garcetti said. “It’s not just our city. It’s Michigan, it’s Colorado, it’s Texas, it’s Indiana, it’s South Carolina, it’s North Carolina, it’s Ohio, it’s Nevada. We’ve got cities everywhere. It’s small, it’s big, it’s in between. And it’s growing.”

States are also starting to step up their climate policies — in addition to California’s bill, lawmakers in Massachusetts recently introduced a bill that would mandate the state obtain 100 percent of its energy across all sectors — electricity, transportation, manufacturing, and others — from renewable sources by 2050. If passed, it would be the most ambitious clean energy plan adopted by any state in the country.