- California may pass a bill in the coming weeks mandating the state transition to 100 percent “zero-carbon” energy by 2045.
- The state already has power supply problems largely due to its heavy investment in solar and wind power, and it has relied on neighboring states to either take excess energy off its grid or supply energy in a drought.
- California’s legislation will likely make it more reliant on the resiliency of its neighboring states’ grids.
California Gov. Jerry Brown will likely sign legislation in the coming weeks mandating the state run on 100 percent “zero-carbon” and renewable energy by 2045.
The aggressive transition schedule may have significant effects outside the state as policymakers seek to restructure the energy basis of the world’s fifth largest economy. California received 30 percent of its total energy supply from neighboring states in 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Lawmakers in the California State Assembly passed the bill to curb carbon emissions Tuesday. The bill will now return to the Senate where an earlier version passed and will head to the Democratic governor’s desk if passed again. The bill is expected to become law as early as next week. (RELATED: California Assembly Passes Carbon Free Energy Bill)
The bill breaks the transition process into stages, requiring utilities’ power production to be 33 percent zero-carbon by 2020, 50 percent by 2026 and 100 percent by 2045. The bill’s end goal is to cut out carbon emissions, but utilities don’t necessarily have to ditch fossil fuels as long as the plants that burn them have the requisite carbon-capture technology. Nuclear and hydropower plants are also allowed.
Solar and wind power will likely be the largest winners under the zero-carbon energy mandate. The solar industry lustily backed the legislation, and California has a history of pushing pro-solar policy to the detriment of other energy sources and Californians’ energy bills.
California’s campaign for renewable solar and wind energy has already made its grid vulnerable to large swings in power availability. California even paid Arizona utilities on several occasions in 2017 to take the state’s energy after heavy investment in private solar panels caused California’s grid to overload on sunny days.
The California grid also experienced energy droughts in 2017, and utilities were forced to purchase energy from neighboring states to meet demand, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The legislation will increase overall electricity demand by pushing state residents to drop gas-powered vehicles and buy electric cars.
So where is all the energy going to come from? Brown recognizes the problems that manifest when the state relies too heavily on variable energy and has suggested California’s path forward include investment and research in energy storage. The technology has yet to be fully developed, however.
Until sufficient storage is created to save excess solar and wind energy for times of high demand, California will likely be making further and more frequent requests of its neighbors, either to save its grid from an overwhelming amount of power, or supply its residents when the state grid is at risk of going dark.
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