Senate Bill 100 sets standard for California renewable energy

By Tessa Munson
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State Senator Kevin de Leon right, shakes hands with Gov. Jerry Brown after Brown signed his environmental measure SB 100. Photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee.

Senate Bill 100 (SB100), also known as the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018, was approved by Governor Brown on Sept. 10 and requires California to run off 100 percent carbon-free energy resources by the year 2045.

The legislation was written to gradually increase dependency upon renewable energy sources by raising the demand every few years, while subsequently reducing demand for fossil-fueled electricity. By Dec. 31, 2020, California should receive 33 percent of energy from renewable sources, by 2026, the state should rely on renewables for 50 percent of energy generated and 60 percent by the year 2030. By the year 2045, SB100 expects California to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

Democratic state Senator Kevin de León introduced the bill and is running against Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for U.S. Senate in the general election on Nov. 6. “We know now that we can, in fact, reach 100 percent clean, renewable electricity. Senate Bill 100 accelerates the process,” de León said in a statement last year during the California Senate votes on SB100.

Sen. de León also stated that SB100 will generate job growth in the state for decades. He expressed that the goal of SB100 is to achieve three things: give a tax break to all Californians (Senator de León expects Californians’ electricity payments to be significantly lower than they are currently, following implementation of the bill), decarbonize our economy to stay current with climate change and create jobs for Californians for decades to come.

Since the electrical grid is inter-connected with several states and portions of Canada and Mexico, the mandates of the bill also extend to energy sources generated outside the state of California. In other words, if California is using energy generated in other parts of the country, Canada and Mexico, that energy must also comply with the requirements of SB100.

If energy companies do not comply with the mandates of the bill and are not eligible for a compliance waiver, they may have penalties assessed. Compliance waivers are only assessed to companies under strict conditions and are not preferred. The penalties assessed to those who don’t qualify for waivers will not be in the form of rates. Instead, a schedule of the penalties will be adopted to address electrical corporations, as well as other retail sellers. The revenue from the fees assessed will enter into the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Fund, created in 2011, and is controlled by the Energy Commission. These funds are allocated at $162 million per year from 2012-2020 and are used to address policy and funding gaps in relation to coming-of-age clean energy technologies.

California residents should not fear that their power will become too expensive as a result of the new bill because the legislation protects residents’ electric bills from increasing to unaffordable rates. The legal language prevents electrical companies from imposing disproportionally higher rates onto customers and requires the Energy Commission to regularly monitor electrical corporations to ensure compliance.

CSUMB student, Kelsey Shoup, marine science major, expressed her thoughts about the new bill, “I think it’s a really great idea! I lived in Costa Rica when they pledged to become a 100 percent renewable energy country by 2021 and everyone was really excited and proud of the country. I know we are a much larger country and need more time to adjust, but I think renewable energy is the future and we can get there!” Costa Rica is known to operate on 100 percent renewable resources to generate electricity for significant portions of the year.

“Humans and animals are experiencing the detrimental effects of climate change,”
said CSUMB psychology student, Breanna Tate. “This new bill will progress California’s goal of reducing the effects of climate change, through the increase of renewable energy production by 2045. California is at the forefront of advancements toward clean energy. This bill will ensure that our children will be able to witness how we succeeded in reducing climate change, witness the various plants and animals we are at risk of losing every day because of climate change, which little is being done to reduce, and witness how we make better, not only ecosystems around the world, but our own economy. It is imperative we set out to move forward with this change.” Breanna traveled abroad last year to Australia and dove the Great Barrier Reef. She noticed coral bleaching and dead zones promoted by climate change.

The legislation mandates that each local publicly owned electric utility must create and implement a renewable energy resources procurement plan in order to meet the goals of the bill. The plan must generate a minimum amount of electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources, including renewable energy credits, in order to achieve targets. Renewable energy credits are a non-tangible commodity for utility companies and are used to prove that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy was produced using renewable sources. These credits cannot be used for monetary value, so it is unlawful to sell or trade them in any fashion.

The bill also recognizes that the rest of the western grid should not increase in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the new policy. This section of the bill helps to ensure that as California utilities move toward becoming carbon-free, other regions that also serve California’s electricity do not suffer higher pollution rates because of it.

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