California Bill Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2045

Under legislation proposed by State Sen. Kevin de Leon, the state would dramatically ramp up efforts to decarbonize its grid.

Massive California solar facility powers thousands of homes

California, already using massive solar facilities like Ivanpah to power thousands of homes, proposes a bill to rid its grid of fossil fuels by 2045. Credit: Getty Images

California's Senate leader has introduced legislation that would require the state to draw all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. If passed, the bill would make the nation's largest state the second to commit to a carbon-free grid.

State Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Democrat, introduced the bill last week as a placeholder ahead of a filing deadline, with more detailed language to come, spokesman Anthony Reyes said in an email.

The legislation makes California the latest in a small number of states this year to propose dramatically ramping up renewable energy, even as President Donald Trump stresses primarily fossil fuels in his energy plan.

In January, lawmakers in Massachusetts filed legislation that would go even further, requiring fossil fuel-free electricity by 2035, and asking the same from other sectors, including transportation and heating, by 2050.

Last week, a Nevada lawmaker introduced a bill that would update that state's portfolio standard to require 80 percent renewables by 2040. The current standard calls for 25 percent by 2025.

Of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards, only Hawaii has set a target for reaching 100 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii's deadline is 2045.

De Leon's bill would also advance by five years, to 2025, California's existing target to hit 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy.

The state is already well on its way. The California Energy Commission says the state got about 27 percent of its electricity from renewables last year, slightly better than the 25 percent required by law. Capacity has more than doubled over the past decade. California's largest utilities have also said they are ahead of schedule for meeting their 2020 goal.

With Republicans now in control of Congress and the White House, California's Democratic political leaders appear to be readying themselves for a fight. The day after Trump's victory in November, de Leon issued a joint statement with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, also a Democrat, promising to defend the state's progressive policies from any changes at the federal level.

In January, the two leaders announced they had hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead any legal battles with the Trump administration, citing potential clashes on climate change and immigration.

De Leon also told the Los Angeles Times that the state's current renewable portfolio standard, which he helped pass in 2015, didn't go far enough. "We probably should have shot for the stars," he said.

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