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California would get 100 percent of its electricity from the sun, the wind and other carbon-free sources by the end of 2045, under a bill passed by the state Assembly on Tuesday.
The bill would cap years of efforts by California to increase its use of renewable power and wean itself off fossil fuels. The Senate, which passed an earlier version of the bill, is likely to vote on the measure this week. If approved, the legislation will go to Gov. Jerry Brown.
California set its first goal for boosting renewable power use among utility companies in 2002, and over time, both Brown and his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, steadily raised the targets. In 2015, Brown signed into law a requirement that utilities get half of their electricity from renewables by the end of 2030.
The bill approved by the Assembly on Tuesday, SB100, would accelerate that goal by four years, requiring 50 percent renewable power by the end of 2026. By Dec. 31, 2030, utilities would need to get 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 43 to 32.
“When it comes to fighting climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, California won’t back down,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. Today, thanks to the leadership my colleagues displayed this afternoon, we have doubled down instead.”
California’s renewable power requirements spurred such a boom in the construction of solar power plants and wind farms that the state now often produces more renewable power at midday than it needs. Policy makers are debating ways to better use that power, while private companies explore ways to store some of it. At the same time, California remains heavily reliant on natural gas power plants in early evenings, when the sun is setting and winds are just starting to pick up.
Still, the state’s utilities have made such rapid progress incorporating renewable power that a study last year predicted they could reach 50 percent renewable power in 2020 – 10 years earlier than the existing goal.
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