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California Today: A Move to Mandate 100% Carbon-Free Electricity

By Ivan Penn and Inyoung Kang, THE NEW YORK TIMES - CALIFORNIA TODAY BLOG

August 14, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/california-today-sb100-clean-ener…

California has been a leader in trying to counter the forces contributing to climate change, from its stringent standards for auto emissions to its mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from carbon-free sources by 2030.

Now, with climate concerns magnified by extreme summer temperatures and catastrophic wildfires, lawmakers are considering a move that would go further: a proposal to mandate 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Kevin de León, says that with the Trump administration’s efforts to bolster electricity generated from fossil fuels, California and other states must chart their own course on energy policy. And, partly owing to recent events, he thinks the bill can pass within three weeks.

“Because of the fires, because of the extreme drought, because of the anti-environmental edicts coming from this president, there’s a huge ground swell of support,” Mr. de León said of his proposal, designated Senate Bill 100.

His timeline would send the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature before the governor convenes a global energy summit meeting in San Francisco in September.

The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the Assembly. But Mr. de León may be hampered in getting it to the finish line as he also pursues a United States Senate seat in a race against a fellow Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

The proposal is among a handful of pending bills intended to alter how California produces and manages electricity.

The Legislature also is weighing a measure pushed by Mr. Brown to expand the state’s electric grid operator into a regional organization that manages electricity in states throughout the West to share solar and wind power. Other legislation focuses on who pays for damages from the growing problem of wildfires, many of which have been attributed to utility company error.

Supporters say the all-in mandate for carbon-free power in Mr. de León’s bill is important to California’s pace-setting role on climate issues.

“If California is going to be the prophet when it comes to clean energy, then it needs to set a 100 percent renewable goal,” said Jamie Court, president of the advocacy organization Consumer Watchdog. “The clock is ticking.”

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