This morning I was honored to be present and on the stage when Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 100 in law, committing California to generating 100% of our electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2045.
The damaging public health effects of burning fossil fuels and the current and future impacts of global warming make a strong case for California to move ahead, as quickly as possible, to an economy powered by clean energy. The good news is that ever since California passed the first clean energy standard into law in 2002, requiring the utilities to use 20% clean, renewable electricity by 2020, we have consistently beat our own goals. Already the utilities report generating about a third of our electricity from clean, renewable sources. More recent advances in battery storage will help to address reliability concerns, especially if Gov. Brown also signs SB 700 to help incentivize the battery storage we need to generate solar and wind electricity when the sun shines and the wind blows and then store that electricity until we need it. With these bills, California can serve as a clean energy model for the nation and the world. And especially as cars, trucks, and buses are increasingly powered by electricity instead of gas, the impact of our clean electricity grid will grow exponentially.
CALPIRG was an early supporter of SB 100, a list that eventually grew to more than 250 endorsing organizations. One of our biggest roles was finding and working with an army of student volunteers through our student chapters, to demonstrate that California’s younger generations want and believe in a clean energy future. We organized three different lobby days in the capitol with our network of student volunteers over the last 18 months, held media events in Sacramento and in key legislative districts, and organized call-in days and other events on college campuses to raise the visibility of the issue with the public.
Today I am a proud, proud Californian. I am deeply thankful to Gov. Jerry Brown for his legacy of promoting clean energy, Sen. Kevin de Leon who authored SB 100 despite many naysayers, Asm. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher who was SB 100’s staunchest advocate in the Assembly, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who publicly endorsed SB 100 in August to demonstrate that clean energy does not need to be a partisan issue, and the dozens of legislators who voted for it.
It is one of my greatest hopes that California’s actions today will spur other cities, states, and the world to act as quickly and decisively as possible, to make it easier for all of us to breathe clean air and help stave off the worst impacts of climate change.