In brief

Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in 2015 that gave the state until 2030 to have 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy. A new report released this month shows the state may reach or surpass this goal by 2020.

Embracing renewable energy

In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would see the state committing to renewable energy. The law gave California until 2030 to ensure 50 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources like the Sun and wind. At the time, Brown made it clear that fossil fuels are taking humanity down a dangerous path, despite their impact on getting us this far.

“We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil — oil and gas, [and] to a lesser extent, coal,” SFGate reported Brown saying. “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

Now, only two years later, California is seemingly ahead of its own schedule. A recently released annual report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reveals the state is on track to meet its goal by 2020 — a full 10 years before the established deadline.

California exceeds expectations

According to the Renewables Portfolio Standard report, California’s three biggest utility providers — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) — all surpassed the 25 percent requirement for 2016. Renewables accounted for 32.9 percent of PG&E’s electricity; SCE reached 28.2 percent, while SDG&E reached 43.2 percent. Going forward, all three companies predict “they will meet or exceed their 2020 RPS compliance period requirements.”

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, California has been pushing renewable energy since 2002, with both Governor Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger steadily raising the requirements over the years. Since 2008, California’s emissions have been on a decline, and it’s only expected to continue. It helps that the prices of both solar and wind contracts have dropped considerably, making it cheaper for companies to invest in renewables.

“The RPS program has helped achieve large reductions in cost for renewable electricity: between 2008 and 2016, the price of utility scale solar contracts reported to the CPUC have gone down 77%, and between 2007 and 2015 reported prices of wind contracts have gone down 47%.” In 2008, solar contracts were $135.90, but as of 2016 they’re priced at $29.17; in 2007, wind contracts were $97.11, but were as low as $50.99 as of 2015.

Image: UN

California’s efforts are beginning to pay off in big ways, and the state continues to show its commitment to reducing its impact on climate change and global warming. It wants to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, and is considering a ban on non-electric vehicles. At the rate its progressing, California is due to get everything it wants.