California's governor and host Jerry Brown, whose crusade for clean energy started in the 1970s, set the tone by approving landmark legislation Monday that commits his state to purging Carbon dioxide from its electricity grid by 2045.
"There's no understating the importance of this measure", Brown said, moments before signing the two actions. Also on September 10, Brown also issued an executive order establishing a new target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
Environmental activists enthusiastically backed the measure, but there was opposition from some of the state's largest utility companies. "We believe customers must be protected from unreasonable rate and bill impacts". "And since climate change is [an] existential threat, I would say that doing what he's doing to undermine efforts that will save lives and prevent catastrophe for California, for America and the world, is about as reprehensible as any act that any American president has ever been guilty of".
The Sierra Club, noting that California has the world's fifth largest economy, stated, "California is now the largest global economy to commit to 100 percent renewable energy". Electricity is responsible for 16 percent of California's greenhouse gas emissions. "This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond".
The law, known as SB 100, also sets goals of 50 percent clean energy by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030. The remaining electricity came from non-renewable sources, including natural gas at 33 percent. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, right, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. SB100 sets a goal of phasing out all fossil fuels from the state's electricity sector by 2045.
Here's what we know about this new era for California.
Experts say that while a goal of having 100% renewable energy by 2050 is an important one to strive for, there is some concern as to whether it is attainable.
The three largest investor-owned utilities collectively served 34.76 percent of their 2016 retail electricity sales with renewable power sources like wind, hydroelectricity, geothermal and bioenergy. Between 2008 and 2015, the price utilities paid for solar energy dropped 77 percent.
While California has been a leader on reducing the amount of electricity it gets from burning fossil fuels, the state has struggled to be as forward-leaning in reducing the greenhouse gas pollution spewed from cars and trucks.
NPR's Planet Money reported that on a sunny day this June, almost 50 percent of the state's electricity came from solar energy alone.