California commits to getting half its electricity from renewable energy in 15 years
News 1130, October 6, 2015. Image credit: CreativeMagic
Gov. Jerry Brown dramatically increased California’s climate-change goals on Wednesday, committing the state to use renewable energy for half its electricity and make existing buildings twice as energy-efficient in just 15 years.
California already has some of the world’s toughest air quality standards, and set a mandate in 2006 to derive a third of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2020. State regulators say they already hit 25 per cent last year, as huge solar farms sprouted in the desert and towering windmills went up along mountain passes.
Just how California will meet the new goal isn’t clear. The bill by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, left the details to the state’s Air Resources Board, Energy Commission and Public Utilities Commission. These boards are led mostly by gubernatorial appointees and have broad influence over economic life.
California’s utilities favoured the measure. They mostly use natural gas, nuclear energy and some coal, but solar, wind, geothermal and biomass are growing sources of electricity, and regulators are expected to allow them to pass some costs of the transition on to consumers.
The new law also encourages utilities to expand by building many more charging stations for electric vehicles, and provides for fines or penalties if utilities don’t meet the goals.