California calls for 50% renewables in electricity by 2030


In the very last hours of the legislative session, the lower house of California's legislature passed an ambitious bill to increase the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030. The bill will now go to Governor Jerry Brown, who initially proposed this goal, to be signed into law.

This will make California's RPS second in ambition only to Hawaii, which in June signed into law a requirement that utilities procure 100% of their electricity from renewable energy by the end of 2045.

California already had one of the stronger RPS policies, which required that utilities source 33% of their generation from renewables by 2020. The new 50% law also sets interim targets for 2024 and 2027.

The bill passed the California Assembly 51-24, after previously passing the Senate. The Assembly vote was the toughest battle for the bill, and the vote was widely cheered by environmentalists and renewable energy advocates.

“The passage of SB 350 is a huge win for Californians and solar power is going to be key in making this win a reality,” said Solar Energy Industries Association VP of State Affairs Sean Gallagher. Gallagher notes that California is home to 55,000 solar industry jobs, which is a significant portion of the national total.

The bill also requires a doubling of 2030 energy efficiency goals for buildings. However, a component of the bill that called for a 50% reduction in petroleum use was stripped out, after a rebellion within Governor Brown's Democratic Party.

California's investor-owned utilities are well on their way to meeting the state's 33% renewable energy mandate. These utilities have been procuring additional utility-scale solar to meet targets for future years before the drop-down of the federal investment tax credit at the end of 2016.

By 2020, California's utilities are expected to meet 45% of their RPS requirements with solar PV and concentrating solar power (CSP).

California has been a national leader in both deployment and integration of renewable energy and action on climate, and this is expected to continue. “Our efforts to reduce carbon emissions are far from over as global warming and air pollution remain one of the most important issues of our generation and one the greatest threats for generations to come,” stated Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León upon passage of the bill.

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