California Senate leader unveils new proposal to phase out use of fossil fuels to generate electricity

[Source: Los Angeles Times] California would completely phase out the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity under a new proposal detailed by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) on Tuesday.

Meeting the goal would require dramatic changes to the state’s electricity infrastructure over the next two decades, including an end to burning natural gas, the source of nearly half of California’s power.

“We can dramatically expand clean energy while also growing our economy,” De León said during a news conference at a solar plant in Davis where he was flanked by colleagues and union workers.

The legislation, Senate Bill 100, would accelerate the state’s plans to increase its reliance on renewable sources such as solar and wind, increasing its 2030 target from 50% to 60%.

More changes would need to come by 2045. California regulators would be in charge of drafting the rules for generating the rest of the state’s electricity. Potential sources include the burning of methane captured at landfills or dairies, as well as existing hydroelectric dams.

Though Hawaii has the country’s first law seeking 100% renewable energy, such a decision by California would have far more weight given the size and complexity of its economy.

About 20% of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2015, the most recent figures available. An additional 44% comes from natural gas.

The natural gas industry signaled their opposition to the new legislation
“Even in sunny California, the sun doesn’t shine every day and the only viable back-up solution to renewables is power generated by clean burning natural gas,” said a statement from Rock Zierman, chief executive officer of the California Independent Petroleum Assn. “The pro tem’s proposal may sound appealing but the impacts of his legislation will put our energy security at risk and drive up costs for consumers.”

Environmentalists were also worried about some provisions of the legislation.
Annie Notthoff, director of California advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement there are “concerns about consumers having to pay entirely for the connection of biogas sources to the pipeline system, which can be prohibitively expensive, particularly considering that cheaper alternatives exist for on-site use or export.”

Source: Los Angeles Times
May 2, 2017