California Takes Another Run at 100 Percent Clean Electricity

, Senior energy analyst | June 20, 2018, 10:29 am EDT
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This post is a part of a series on Clean Energy Momentum

UPDATE [September 10, 2018]:  We did it! Today Governor Brown signed SB 100 into law. Check out this link for his signing statement. This bold step to power the world’s 5th largest economy with 100% carbon-free electricity is the kind of bold climate action we need to jump-start the conversation about how we truly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in this state and throughout the country. The Union of Concerned Scientists has been proudly working alongside a powerful coalition of faith, labor, business, climate, and environmental justice leaders to move this bill across the finish line, and we want to thank all of those partners for their tireless work and effective collaboration.


On June 13th, the Union of Concerned Scientists worked with the California 100% Clean Energy Coalition to bring more than 100 people to Sacramento to lobby in support of Senate Bill 100 (De León) and California’s transition away from fossil fuels. SB 100 would accelerate the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 60% by 2030 and require that the remaining 40% of the electricity mix come from RPS-eligible resources or zero-carbon resources by 2045.

Last year, SB 100 passed the California State Senate, but stalled in the Assembly. A day after lobby day, the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy scheduled SB 100 for a hearing on July 3rd!

Meeting 100% of California’s electricity needs with zero-carbon resources is a bold goal, but achieving it is within reach. In 2016 California received about 25% of its electricity from eligible renewables. Another 19% came from a combination of nuclear and large hydropower, which are zero-carbon resources that would be eligible under SB 100. Statewide we are already on track to exceed the current RPS requirement of 50% renewables by 2030.

California has led the nation in the transition from coal to clean energy resources and demonstrated that a cleaner electricity system need not come at the price of a growing economy. We have the technology to run a flexible and efficient grid with even more renewables, and the prices for energy storage are coming down. The time is right to double down on this clean energy momentum.

Climate change is the biggest threat to the health and economic stability of Californians. With more extreme weather events threatening the livelihoods of frontline communities, it is time to pass legislation that will prevent further damage to these communities. Cleaning up our electricity grid will also provide a blueprint for significant cuts in global warming emissions.

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  • Bill

    Using legislation to force 100% renewables is like using a machete to remove a scab. You force people to buy inferior technology today at painful prices, the difference to the climate will be un-measurable, and the problem would have solved itself in a while by simply waiting for prices to fall and people to decide to do it on their own. Such hyperbolic political posturing is why California is becoming only a home to the ultra-rich and the painfully poor.

  • Paulie Baer

    I am glad that I won’t be there when the lights go out…

  • solodoctor

    Very good news! Please keep us posted if/when those of us who are Calif residents can contact our reps in the Assembly to encourage the passage of this bill.