California Pledges Switch to Renewables by 2030

Amber Plante for Zondits, October 13, 2015. Image credit: Danny.

California governor Jerry Brown said his own version of “hasta la vista” to old state standards on fossil fuels and efficiency by signing into legislation a bill promising that half of the state’s energy demand will be supplied by renewable energy within 15 years. Also included in the bill is a pledge to make existing buildings in the state twice as energy efficient – this on top of California already having the toughest energy standards in the country.

Though it is unclear how Gov. Brown plans to achieve these efficiency goals, the bill, as written by Calif. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, leaves the state’s Air Resources Board, Energy Commission, and Public Utilities Commission in charge of making sure the changes take effect. Gov. Brown also tried to institute a 50% drop in the state’s use of petroleum by 2030 but was defeated by oil interests. His main goal is to drastically reduce California’s dependence on fossil fuels, a step in the right direction for one of the country’s largest states in leading other, smaller states to adopt similar energy efficiency goals.

Though the move has been called a “game-changer” and is widely considered achievable by the 2030 deadline, opponents warn that residents can expect higher costs in food and energy and possible job losses, not to mention the costs incurred to legislate the new regulations that will be needed to meet the efficiency goal. But that prospect isn’t affecting the legislation’s support from California’s utilities, which use mostly nuclear energy, natural gas, and coal, but also dabble in solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy. The bill also expands state and utility efforts in encouraging electrical vehicles, including more charging stations and fines for agencies that do not cooperate.

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