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California Calls for Eliminating Fossil Fuel Power Generation by 2045

California's legislature late Wednesday passed Senate Bill (SB) 100, which calls for eliminating the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas, for electricity production by 2045. The legislation also would move up renewable energy goals.

Authored by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, the measure is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. A similar measure pushed by De Leon last year had failed to win passage.

California joins Hawaii in moving to eliminate fossil fuel use. Two years ago, Hawaiian Electric Cos. filed a plan to take the multi-island utility to 100% reliance on renewables also by 2045.

The bill, if signed by Brown, would add requirements on utilities and state agencies for shifting to more renewable-based power supplies. It leaves unspecified how to achieve 100% renewables sources between 2030 and 2045, but it effectively points the state in the direction of having "zero-carbon" electricity.

SB 100 requires utilities and other electricity sellers by 2030 to have 60% of power supplies from renewable sources, an increase from the current goal of 50% by then. Under the new provisions, the state would be responsible for determining where the remaining 40% of the power supplies would come from.

Several state agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, would be required to issue progress reports to lawmakers every four years. For now, concepts like "zero-carbon" are undefined.

"California won't back down" when it comes to fighting climate change and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, said De Leon.

"Passage of SB 100 will help keep the state on track to achieve the long-term carbon pollution goals that were adopted in 2015," said Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Peter Miller. "Another catastrophic series of forest fires this year provides a riveting demonstration of the urgent need to rapidly cut our greenhouse gas pollution."

There is a concern in the environmental community that the lack of timely access to out-of-state power markets has forced California to waste increasing wind- and solar-produced power supplies by switching off, or curtailing, generators.

"We need to get as much renewable energy onto the transmission system as possible, and our balkanized electric grid stymies that," said NRDC’s Pat Remick, a senior energy communications strategist.

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