Is your state considering a clean energy law? See what California — now the world’s fifth-largest economy — just passed

by Brianna Crandall — September 28, 2018 — On September 10, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 100, The 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018, which sets California on an aspirational path to source 100 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045.

Brown signed the bill just as climate leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society arrive in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit, a gathering to celebrate the climate work under way and to inspire deeper climate ambition by states, cities, businesses, investors, individuals, tribes, provinces and national governments.

The 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018 sets the state on a path to accelerate its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 60 percent by 2030 and aspire to a goal of 100 percent clean, zero-carbon energy sources by 2045. The California Assembly passed SB 100 in late August; the state Senate had approved it earlier.

An article in the Desert Sun notes that California is the second state to set a target of 100 percent climate-friendly energy, after Hawaii.

According to an analysis of the new law on the Vox news site, Gov. Brown had advocated for California legislators to AB 813, a bill that would set California on the path to joining a larger regional Western power market, but the bill did not come up for a vote this time around.

Sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres points out that California became the fifth largest economy in the world this year, and its gross domestic product (GDP) growth and job growth have both exceeded the nation’s for most of the last decade.

Proponents of SB 100

According to Ceres, major companies and institutional investors had advocated for SB 100’s passage, citing the benefits to the economy and the planet resulting from California’s rigorous, market-based climate policies to date, with innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy creating new jobs.

A variety of organizations and companies expressed support for the bill in addition to Ceres, including the nonprofit American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), national business group Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), health advocate the American Lung Association, the California branch of the National Audubon Society environmental group, and more.

Gregory Wetstone, president and chief executive officer (CEO), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), stated:

With the Assembly’s approval of Senate Bill 100, California is taking a historic step towards the clean energy future we will need to protect our climate and ensure low electricity costs. This is a ground-breaking measure that will bring enormous benefits to consumers and businesses, while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with California officials and business leaders to support the achievement of this important and ambitious goal.

Opponents of SB 100

Those who opposed SB 100, largely due to the anticipated costs, include many California Republican leaders, utilities and oil companies, as well as the NFIB Small Business Association, which said the mandate will add to the already “extremely high ‘cost of doing business’ in the state” and will place a heavy cost burden on small businesses and working families.

Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, commented:

We pass all these goals for renewables, but at the same time our families back home will pay the cost with an increase in the electric bills every year as we try to achieve this.

An article in the Sacramento Bee noted that “the bill is opposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, Western States Petroleum Association, Agricultural Council of California and more than two dozen others.”