California is very close to passing laws that will enforce multiple renewable energy goals in their quest to become fully sustainable. By 2045, the state will be running on 100 percent renewable sources. It’s a powerful message considering that state has more oil and gas production than you’d expect, and it would make a big impact for the entire United States.
Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law. If passed, it would require utility companies to retrieve 50 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2026, four years earlier than originally planned. A new target of 60 percent would instead be set for 2030. California would join Hawaii as the two states in the country that has mandated the switch to sustainability, with Massachusetts currently working on passing a law with a 2050 goal.
Comparing California to Hawaii isn’t exactly the same when it comes to switching electricity. There’s a difference of 38 million people and Hawaii has to import oil for traditional power plants. The switch to local renewable sources was necessary. However, the bill is expected to be a slam dunk with California officials noting how much of the state is already ahead of the curve.
Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC), says that everybody is simply waiting for the bill to go through: “We’ve already seen construction slow down because major utilities have what they need to meet the 50 percent. The industry is ready and waiting. The workforce is ready and waiting. All we need is SB 100.”
As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of this. According to Forbes, California is “the third largest oil and gas producing state” behind North Dakota and Texas. The impact of removing fossil fuel production would eliminate over 450,000 jobs and 500,000 barrels of oil per day. Also, the state has seen an increase in energy imports since 2010 so they can meet demand.
While that’s plenty of hurdles to overcome, California has been making strides in preparation. Solar panels have actually produced more power than the electric grids can handle, and the state has had to sell it to other states. Initially, that’s not good. As the infrastructure improves and storage solutions are installed, that would be a major impact. There’s also jobs needed as the clean energy sector grows.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar already accounts for over 13 percent of California’s electricity. It’s been the biggest industry for jobs in 2016, creating over 100,000 opportunities. The state doesn’t produce the most renewable energy in the country -- that belongs to Texas with its wind generation -- but this is a good sign for things to come.
By itself, California accounts for 14 percent of the United States’ GDP and it would be the sixth-largest economy in the world if it was its own country. A switch to renewable energy at this scale will impact many others, and even just signaling it with a passing bill could cause many other states to react.