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California Governor Calls for 50 Percent Renewables By 2030

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown gave the inaugural address for his fourth gubernatorial term. During the address he praised California’s progress during the last 40 years. He also used the speech to call for new environmental targets -- most notably increasing the state’s electricity from renewable sources to 50 percent by 2030.

California first established a renewables portfolio standard (RPS) in 2002, accelerated it in 2006 and expanded it in 2011. Under the current law, all utilities and electricity providers must source 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

As Brown pointed out, California is a leader in renewable energy with the “most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.” Since the state is “on track” to meet its 2020 goal, it’s time for new challenges, including increasing the RPS because, as Brown put it, “These efforts, impressive though they are, are not enough.”

In addition to increasing the RPS, Brown proposed two other 2030 goals: reducing the petroleum used in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent, and doubling the efficiency of existing buildings and making heating fuels cleaner.

Brown envisions California enacting a “wide range of initiatives.” Those initiatives would include “more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles.” Launching those initiatives will require “active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels."

“We are at a crossroads … The challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means, and to keep California ever golden and creative,” Brown said.

Since California first created its RPS program in 2002, almost 200 new renewable energy projects have been built in the Golden State, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Nearly three-quarters of those projects were built in counties with unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher.

Currently, the state is producing enough energy from renewable sources to power over 5 million homes, and that is expected to almost double by 2020. California also has the biggest market for solar photovoltaics (PV) in the U.S., according to a report released in released in September by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). The state accounted for 57 percent of the country’s capacity additions. On June 1, 2014, California broke the state record for utility-delivered solar electricity fed into the state’s grid.

Wind generation has also increased in the state. In 2013, wind generated more electricity in California than geothermal.

Image credit: Powerhouse Museum

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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