With the world awaiting President Donald Trump’s decision whether or not to withdraw completely or in part from the Paris climate agreement, California appears to be affirming its support for renewable energy and fighting global warming.
International leaders, many of whom had spent years in negotiations to hammer out the final version of the hard-won accord to reduce carbon emissions worldwide, rallied around the pact Wednesday. White House officials told The Associated Press that Trump, who opposed the agreement during the campaign, was polling his Cabinet on Wednesday before making a final decision.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Sacramento, the state Senate approved Senate Bill 100, which would make California the second state, after Hawaii, to commit to 100 percent renewable energy and zero-carbon sources for electricity.
The measure, by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, was approved on a 25-13 vote. The bill moves on to the Assembly next.
“When it comes to our clean air and climate change, we are not backing down,” de León said in a statement.
More than a half-million Californians are employed by the clean energy industry, about 10 times more than workers in the U.S. coal mining industry. But the push for a greater reliance on renewable power would require increased energy storage, greater regional cooperation and more power sources. And it could drive up electricity bills.
Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, expressed the concerns of some Californians, who fear that the standards will be pricey to meet – if indeed it truly can be met at all.
“It’s going to drive up the electricity bills for our businesses,” Stone said during debate in the Senate before the vote.
It’s one of the top reasons businesses cite for why they are considering leaving the California, he said.
State lawmakers set an aggressive goal two years ago of getting half of California’s electricity needs from clean sources by 2030. The state is on pace to reach that target, now getting about 27 percent of its electricity from clean sources, according to recent estimates by the California Energy Commission.
The bill sets a 100 percent target by 2045 and requires the Air Resources Board, Energy Commission and Public Utilities Commission to use the target for long-term planning and decision-making. It would speed up the state’s transition to renewable sources – solar, wind, biomass, renewable gas and some hydroelectricity – over the next three decades.
It also bumps the mandatory renewable rate from 50 to 60 percent by 2030.
The proposal could also encourage building new pipelines and other infrastructure to support increased use of bio-methane gas. It would push gas companies to replace diesel-fueled trucks with low- or zero-emission vehicles.
California’s grid system, which excludes Los Angeles, Sacramento and Imperial Valley area utilities, last year got 11.9 percent of its electricity from solar plants, up from 9 percent in 2015 and 6.3 percent in 2014.
In the past 21/2 years, several large-scale solar plants have gone into operation in the deserts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. These include the Ivanpah solar tower project off the 15 Freeway near the Nevada border. In eastern Riverside County, the Desert Sunlight, Genesis, Blythe and McCoy solar projects have been built north of and along the 10 Freeway corridor.
Staff writers David Danelski, Louis Hansen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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